Auction Results: 20th Century Photography: The Emergence Of Modernism, December 6, 2023 @John Moran

A small treasure trove of prints by Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham showed up at auction at John Moran in California last week, giving collectors a rare chance at some early 20th century Modernist gems. The results were generally solid, with a Cunningham print taking the top lot honors near $300K and several Weston prints topping $100K; the archive of Weston scholar Amy Conger was also up for sale, finding a buyer well above its modest estimate range. When the dust settled, the overall Buy-In rate for the sale came in under 20%, with the Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $1.25M) falling near the top end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 43
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $798400
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1372900
Total Lots Sold 35
Total Lots Bought In 8
Buy In % 18.60%
Total Sale Proceeds $1244727

Here is the breakdown (using our typical Low, Mid, and High price range definitions):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 25
Total Low Lots Sold 21
Total Low Lots Bought In 4
Low Buy In % 16.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $90900
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $109030
Mid Total Lots 10
Total Mid Lots Sold 7
Total Mid Lots Bought In 3
Mid Buy In % 30.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $192000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $132398
Total High Lots 8
Total High Lots Sold 7
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 12.50%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $1090000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $1003300

The top lot by High estimate was tied between four lots, each estimated at $100000-200000: lot 9, Edward Weston, Palma Cuernavaca, Mexico, 1924; lot 10, Edward Weston, Cuernavaca, 1925; lot 12, Edward Weston, Untitled [Nude], 1923; and lot 15, Imogen Cunningham, Two Callas, 1925-1929. The Cunningham print was the top outcome of the sale at $292100 (image above, via Moran), while the first Weston palm failed to sell, the second Weston palm sold at $215900, and the Weston nude sold at $114300.

65.71% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 6 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate)(images above via Moran):

Lot 2, Edward Weston, Enrique, 1919, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $6985

Lot 4, Edward Weston, Prologue To A Sad Spring, 1920, estimated at $60000-80000, sold at $215900

Lot 16, Imogen Cunningham, Rubber Plant 3, c1929, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $31750

Lot 18, Imogen Cunningham, Leaf Pattern, 1929/c1950s, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $3810

Lot 25, Edward Weston, Portraits Of Enrique (Enrica) Jackson, 1916-1919, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $15240

Lot 43, Dr. Amy Conger’s Research Files On Edward Weston (25 boxes), estimated at $1000-2000, sold at $10795

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, John Moran Auctioneers

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