Auction Preview: Blanc et Demilly, October 13, 2008 @Millon et Associes, Paris

My first interaction with the Millon auction house in Paris was a few years ago during the big Brassai sale. Getting comfortable with an unfamiliar foreign auction house always has its questions: can I get a condition report in English and will it be reliable? will payment be a hassle? what about packing and shipment? will they do a good job or will I have to try to manage it from afar? I can say from experience at that sale that Millon, while perhaps not world class in its service, is perfectly adequate and you can have comfort that buying from America can be done with a minimum of effort on your part. If you can speak French, life will be even easier.

Coming up on October 13th, Millon will be selling a huge group of images by Blanc and Demilly, consigned by various family members on both sides. Blanc and Demilly are best known for their images of the people and streets of Lyons in the 1930s. This sale spans their entire career together, from the mid 1920s to the mid 1950s, including their commercial work. As such, there is a staggering array of subject matter in this sale: city scenes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, flowers, travel photos, surrealism, street photography etc. Sizes generally range from 9×7 to 24×20, with some large exhibition prints thrown in as well. With a total of 603 lots up for sale (virtually all vintage prints), there is truly something for everyone.

A quick check of the estimates also shows that this sale is very reasonably priced. There are only 2 lots with high estimates over $7500 Euros (the equivalent of approximately $10000, the cutoff used in other auction posts on this blog), and an amazing 552 lots have a high estimate of $1000 Euros or less. So there are plenty of bargains to be had here, even if the estimates are artificially low to entice bidders.

We actually already own one print by Blanc and Demilly, here. In my view, if you enjoy the work of Doisneau and Brassai, or the Paris work of Kertesz, Bing, and Man Ray, or the Marseille work of Krull, you should definitely take a close look at this sale. While perhaps not as consistently accomplished as those mentioned, there are images buried in this pile of lots that might fit your collection.

The entire sale can be seen online from the link below, and there is a fine, hard backed catalogue also available.

Blanc et Demilly
October 13, 2008

Millon et Associes
Paris Drouot Montaigne
15, Avenue Montaigne – 75008 Paris

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