Auction Preview: Photographs, May 19, 2009 @Sotheby’s London

Lots of auction previews this week, we know; it’s just the nature of the clustering of these sales. While there are still plenty more to come, we’ll be back to a more balanced mix of posts next week.

Sotheby’s upcoming London sale is an unusual mix of material, with a heavier dose than normal of 19th century imagery and a few somewhat random portfolios and multi-image lots. To our eye, there is a marked absence of real stand out works here, although there is a solid smaller vintage Cartier-Bresson (lot 75) included. The sale has a total of 154 lots on offer, with a total high estimate of £1349000. (For some reason, there is no image of the catalog cover on the website at the moment, so this picture of the catalog on my desk will have to do, at right.)

Here’s the breakdown:

Total Low Lots (high estimate below £5000): 58
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): £264000

Total Mid Lots (high estimate between £5000 and £25000): 91
Total Mid Estimate: £845000

Total High Lots (high estimate above £25000): 5
Total High Estimate: £240000

By far the most exciting lot for our collection in this sale is the set of 13 maquettes of typologies by Bernd and Hilla Becher, from the 1970s (lot 136 at right). Given both the limitations of our walls and our wallet, it seems unlikely that we would ever own a full size Becher typology, even though it would fit perfectly into our collection. One of these small maquettes would be an excellent substitute, but these too have risen in price in past years, and this large group is estimated at £50000-70000. I very much wish they were being sold individually so we could pick off a single sheet.

One other random note. The recent news about more layoffs at Sotheby’s perhaps made me a bit more attuned to the first few pages of the catalog, where I noticed that London Department Head Francis Hodgson is curiously absent: no picture, no listing of his name, no inclusion of him as part of the larger photography department. Since this information is spread across a couple of pages, it would be quite a coincidence to have made the same mistake everywhere. I went back and looked at the November London catalog and he is listed in all of these places. I hope this is just a production error and not a subtle sign of a shrinking department.

The complete lot by lot catalog can be found here.

May 19th

34-35 New Bond Street
London W1A 2AA

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Read more about: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sotheby's

One comment

  1. takeapictureitlastslonger /


    I find your blog very interesting and check it regularly, but never made a comment before.

    Just to let you know that Francis Hodgson no longer works at Sotheby’s, I read somewhere that it was his decision to leave.

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