Auction Preview: Photographs, October 14, 2008 @Christie’s

The last of the photography sales at Christie’s New York this season is the various owner sale on October 14th. This is the catch all sale, with photography from all periods and styles. At least that’s what it used to be. There are a grand total of two (2) 19th century lots in an entire sale of 258 lots, so clearly, the 19th century isn’t much of a priority at Christie’s at this point. (I will admit however that these two lots are among the top valued lots in the sale; perhaps it is a “skim the cream” approach.) There are also a handful of recent lots that should have gone in the Contemporary Photography sale, but somehow ended up here. Save these exceptions, this is a standard 20th century sale (without a lot of truly great material), from top to bottom. The total estimate for the sale is $7587000. Here’s the breakdown:

Total Low lots (high estimate $10000 or below): 63
Total Low estimate (sum of high estimates): $528000

Total Mid lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 158
Total Mid estimate: $3519000

Total High lots (high estimate above $50000): 37
Total High estimate: $3540000

So, as usual, the top end will drive the ultimate success of the sale. There are only 6 lots with a low estimate below $5000, further proof that like Sotheby’s, Christie’s is willing to give up the bottom of the low end to Swann, Phillips and others (save for the grab bag low end sales they do from time to time off season). The photographers with the most lots in the sale are the usual suspects:

  • Ansel Adams (31)
  • Irving Penn (17)
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson (13)
  • Harry Callahan (12)
  • Diane Arbus (11)
  • Brassai (11)

For our particular collection, the following lots are of interest to us:

  • Lot 204 Ansel Adams, Nasturtiums, Oceano, California, 1951
  • Lot 267 Harry Callahan, Chicago, 1949
  • Lot 268 Harry Callahan, Dearborn Street, 1948
  • Lot 288 Edward Weston, Tina, 1923
  • Lot 294 Margaret Bourke-White, The George Washington Bridge, for Fortune, 1933
  • Lot 398 Walker Evans, Chicago, 1946
  • Lot 404 Berenice Abbott, Murray Hill Hotel Spiral, from Park Avenue and 40th Street, 1935
  • Lot 407 Harry Callahan, Detroit, 1943
  • Lot 416 Southworth & Hawes, Flowers, c1852
  • Lot 422 Edward Weston, Elbow, 1935

The Weston Elbow is the single best image in the sale, from my point of view. This is the first nude of Weston’s that seems to me to clearly be a precursor to Brandt. The Southworth & Hawes floral is clearly a rare piece, given that so few floral daguerreotpes were made.

October 14, 2008

20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020

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One comment

  1. Anonymous /

    Alex Novak wrote that “Edward Weston’s Elbow (this was a MoMA print of the month club issue…” This was incorrect, it was NOT a MoMA Print of the Month Club issue but rather an Edward Weston Print-of-the-Month-Club.The following is from Amy Conger’s authoritative catalogue on Weston’s work from pp. 28-29 of the biography. “That spring [1935] he began a new venture, the ‘Edward: Print-of-the-Month-Club.’ Camera Craft, ran a note on it explaining thatalthough prints by him usually cost $15 or $20, it would be possible for only $5 a month to subscribe for a year to this club ($50 if paid in advance). Each month the subscribers would receive a new print by Weston; the total edition of each print would be limited to forty, thirty-five for subscribers and five for the photographer. Weston probably got no more than eleven subscriptions. Twelve monthly EWPOMCprints were issued, although the date he actually began or the exactorder in which he sent them out is unknown. Today these prints are recognizable not only because of the edition numbers written on them but also because they were consistently exquisite.“By consulting the footnotes to this text and cross-referencing with the Edward Weston Negative Log (there is a photocopy of this from the Weston Archive housed at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson), it can be deduced that this print of the elbow is from Weston’s negative 208Nwhich is of Charis in 1935, and that other EW Print-of-the-Month-Club prints of this negative are to be found in the collections of Indiana University Art Museum, MoMA, Norton Simon Museum and SFMOMA.

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