NEW YORK, NY.-
Outstanding results were achieved at Swann Galleries
auction of Fine Photographs on February 26. The top lot in the auction was portfolio number one of Edward S. Curtiss masterpiece, The North American Indian, containing 39 photogravuressome of which are among his most famous images1907. It sold for $78,000*.
Daile Kaplan, Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann, said, The success of our sale reflects the global reach of the photography market. Asian collectors focused on rare 19th century images, which realized great prices, while American and European buyers cast a wide net, acquiring iconic images, rare albums and important portfolios.
Among the Asian albums she referenced are several from the collection of ceramicist and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Fong Chow. The highest selling of these were a collection of 78 carte-de-visite portraits of Chinese subjects by various photographers including John Thomson, 1860s-70s, which brought $60,000; as well as a group of 14 photographs of China by Thomas Child and Felice Beato, 1875-76, $28,800; and an album of 38 photographs of Korean subjects, 1899, $20,400.
Other notable vernacular or non fine-art examples included a binder containing 35 male physique photographs by Fred Kovert, silver prints, late 1940s, $18,000; and Wardens Book, San Quentin, November through December 1917, filled with 80 mug shots, $13,200.
Avant-garde works by masters of the medium included André Kertészs Distortion #128, a mind-bending nude that appeared on the cover of the auction catalogue, silver print, 1931-33, $60,000; Man Rays Marcel Duchamps A Regarder dUn Oeil, De Prés Pendant Presque Une Heure, carte-postale, 1920, $16,800; and Brassaïs Transmutations, complete portfolio with 12 cliché verre photographs, silver prints, 1967, $15,600.
Several classic images by the best known of 20th century photographers drew interest, such as Henri Cartier-Bressons Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of King George VI, London, silver print, 1937, printed late 1950s, inscribed to a colleague at Magnum, $24,000, and his portrait of Alberto Giacometti at La Galerie Maeght, Paris, France, silver print, 1961, printed late 1980s, $18,000; W. Eugene Smiths Walk to Paradise Garden, ferrotyped silver print, 1946, printed 1972, $16,800; Alfred Eisenstaedts Children at a Puppet Theatre, Paris, silver print, 1963, printed late 1990s, $15,600; Berenice Abbotts Pike and Henry Streets (street scene with the Manhattan Bridge), silver contact print, 1936, $12,000; and Helen Levitts New York (boys playing over a doorway), silver print, circa 1940, printed circa 1980, $12,000.
More contemporary were Joel Sternfelds McLean, Virginia, December 4, 1978, dye-transfer print, 1978, printed 1982, $19,200; Robert ParkeHarrison, Listening to the Earth, complete set of 10 platinum prints, 2004, $18,000; William Wegman, The Puppy Portfolio, with 8 chromogenic prints, 1983-89, printed 1989, $12,000.
Other portfolios of note included Karl Struss: A Portfolio, 1909/29, with 15 platinum prints, printed 1979, $12,000; and Bert Sterns The Last Sitting portfolio, with 10 chromogenic prints of Marilyn Monroe, 1962, $22,800.