Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photography has Kick


By Stephen Perloff, Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter, and Alex
Novak, Editor of the E-Photo Newsletter

Christie's sale of Important Daguerreotypes by Joseph-Philibert Girault de
Prangey on October 7 realized $2,873,375 with a 22% buy-in rate. Four phone
bidders, 1779, 1794, 1810, and 1841 took most of the top lots, with a French
bidder in the room, 626, taking numerous lower-priced, but good quality lots.
The number of buy-ins was higher than at the previous Girault de Prangey
sales--a result of a combination of the deterioration in the quality of the
material on offer and the more erratic estimates in this sale. Even much of the
material in this sale that sold probably shouldn't have, and I wonder how many
of the active bidders on the phone really viewed many of these poorer quality

Lots 2 and 3 both went to 1779, which was an English-speaking bidder on the
phone with Christie's Stuart Alexander: Girault de Prangey's self-portrait,
probably 1841, went for $194,500, more than three times the high estimate; and
the beautiful Atget-like "261. Paris. 1841. Etude de plantes" for $242,500,
almost double the high estimate and over the bid of New York dealer Hans P.
Kraus, Jr. These were the top two lots in the sale. Bidder 1779 was highly
active on many other lots in this sale. It makes me wonder if Qatar wasn't back
bidding, filling in some gaps.

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (21 October 1804 – 7 December 1892) was a French photographer and draughtsman who was active in the Middle East. His daguerreotypes are the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Remarkably, his photographs were only discovered in the 1920s in a storeroom of his estate and then only became known eighty years later.

A different phone bidder (1759) outlasted Boston dealer Robert Klein for lot 4,
"15 Rome 1842 T[emple] de la Concorde Ent[rée] Intér[ieure]", at $128,500. This
might have gone higher in previous Girault de Prangey sales. And yet another
phone bidder (1719) captured lot 7, "28 Rome 1842 Prise de la Colonne Trajane",
at $56,250.

Phone bidder 1779 closed the window on lot 8, "82 Fenêtre, clocher, Cornéto,
[1842]", at $80,500. Bidder 626 took his most expensive lot (#9), "27 Rome 1842
Jardins, Villa Médici" for $68,500. Collector Bruce Lundberg won lot 11, 35
Environs de Rome vue prise du R[io] del dio Redicolo [1842], for $43,750.
Robert Klein was lucky on lot 13 and paid the same price for 61 Athènes
Anc[ienne] Cathédrale Côté S[ud] [1842].

Phone bidder 1794 went to $56,250 for lot 22, "132 Constantinople, rue sous le
petit champ des morts [probably 1843]". A bidder in the room, 611, took lots 24
and 25, "75 Aphrodisias Entablement et Chap[iteau] [1843]" at $52,500; and
"Euromus Temple antique [probably 1843]" at $80,500.

1794 scooped up lot 27, "150 Constantinople 1843 Fontaine pris du T[emple] du
Galat" for $80,500. Then 1779 was back for lots 29 and 30, the latter, "230.
Zouk. Syrie. 1844. Tombeau" at $134,500 (the third highest price of the sale);
and lot 32, "249 Liban 1844 Les Cèdres. Suite" for $50,000.

A new phone, 1810, bought lot 41, "130 Kaire G S Gânem Dét[ail] [1842-1844]" at
$98,500. After picking up lots 43, 45 and 46, phone bidder 1779 bid $62,500 for
lot 47, "145 Rosette. 1842. Fabriques et Palmiers". And a new phone bidder
(1746) took lot 48, "204 Denderah 1844" at $98,500.

1794 paid $60,000 for lot 57, "219 Jérusalem 1844 G[ran]d tombeau Vue de
Josaphat", and $122,500 for lot 60, "[Jérusalem--Tombeaux de Zachariah et Bnei
Hezir, Vallée Kidron, 1844]", which became a battle of phones in the end.

Then 1810 went on a tear, picking up five of the next six lots, but then ran
into 1841 on lot 67. Phone bidder 1841 had waited until the end of the sale,
but then was the winning bidder on five straight lots: lot 67, "[Jerusalem, Al
Wad, rue dans la vieille ville, 1844]" at $98,500 over 1810's underbid; lot 68,
"196 Jérusalem Porta aurea [1844]" at $116,500 and also over bidder 1810; lot
69, "[Jérusalem, fortifications Porta Aurea, 1844]" at $60,000; lot 70,
"[Jérusalem, Porta Aurea, 1844]" at $104,500; and, lot 71, "220 Jérusalem 1844
G[ran]de Mosquée prise de la Porte S[ud] M..." at $56,250.

And 1810 took the last two lots of the sale, lot 73 for $25,000 and lot 74, "210
Jérusalem Dét[ail] Porte Egl[ise] du S[aint] Sép[ulcre] [1844]" for $80,500,
over the bid of dealer Robert Klein.

Despite the buy-ins (usually on problematic plates), this was a strong sale with
all the top lots but one (those hammering for $80,000 and up) selling above
their high estimates, and that one sold within the estimates. There was strong
and competitive bidding, despite the sale being dominated by six bidders.
Bidder 611 captured three lots for $143,000 total; bidder 626, Joseph Delarue, a
Paris dealer on a cell phone reportedly to fellow Paris dealer Serge Plantureux,
bought nine lots for $171,125; 1794 took five lots for $325,500; 1810 10 lots
for $365,250; 1841 five lots for $437,750; and 1779 11 lots for $890,125. That
is 43 of the 58 lots sold and $2,332,750--or 81.2% by dollar.

(Copyright ©2010 by The Photo Review. My thanks to Steve Perloff and The
Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this
information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I
can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription
for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $169.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and
charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph
Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047.)


By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter

Phillips de Pury & Company's auction on October 8 totaled $3,987,800 selling 78%
by value, with many of the sale's top lots surpassing their pre-sale estimates.
The sale total is Phillips's highest in nearly three years, and half-a-million
dollars above their April totals, further highlighting the market's increasing
momentum, although again, the buy-in rate was 38%, reflecting the selectivity of
bidders. Perhaps some in the room were distracted by the stunning view across
the Hudson from the large picture windows lining Phillips's long, narrow,
third-floor salesroom.

The day started with 15 sales associates manning the phones and 32 people in the
room. That number eventually grew to over 50, but waxed and waned throughout
the two sessions, hitting a low of 22 until the crowd dwindled even further at
the end of the sale.

Irving Penn's Pablo Picasso

The highest selling lot in the sale was Irving Penn's Pablo Picasso at La
Californie, Cannes ($80,000–$120,000), which sold for $182,500 to Peter MacGill.
Another work by Penn, Chef, New York, sold for $134,500 to the phone, almost
tripling the high estimate and marking a new world record for the photographer's
Small Trades series. It took fourth place.

Richard Avedon's "Brigit Bardot"

Iconic works by master photographers were likewise successful, as exemplified by
Robert Frank's Trolley--New Orleans, which sold for $158,500 (third place) to
Peter MacGill again; Richard Avedon's Brigitte Bardot, which sold for $170,500
(second place) to a phone bidder who bested Kevin Moore; and Robert
Mapplethorpe's Calla Lily, which sold for $74,500 (ninth place) to an order

John Baldessari's "Life's Balance (with Brushes)

Contemporary photography also generated some strong results, as represented by
John Baldessari's Life's Balance (With Brushes), which sold for $97,300 (fifth
place) to Kevin Moore; Thomas Struth's Paradise 23, São Francisco de Xavier,
Brasil, which sold for $86,500 (seventh place); Christian Boltanski's Fête du
Pourim, and Hiroshi Sugimoto's, Ionian Sea, Santa Cesarea ($35,000–$45,000)
which both brought $68,500 (tied for tenth place).

Ansel Adams's Portfolio Three: Yosemite Valley eked out $47,500, just under low
estimate. And Dorothea Lange's The General Strike, Policeman, San Francisco,
1934 just reached its low estimate at $43,750. They went to a phone bidder and
order, respectively. Edward Steichen's Foxgloves, France, 1926, also went to a
phone just under low estimate at $47,500. This same print had sold at
Christie's in October 1999 for $29,900, a compound rate of under 4% with fees.

An internet bidder snared André Kertész's Distortion #6, Paris, 1933, at
$42,500. And a phone bidder went beyond the high estimate to $45,000 for Irving
Penn's striking Gaultier Eye Earrings, New York, 1998 (in a small edition of
six). Andres Serrano's Madonna of the Rock, from his Immersion series, 1987,
just hit its high estimate at $37,500. And lastly, Barry Frydlender's Smoking,
Sinai, 2004, also hit its high estimate at $52,500.

Frydlender was among those photographers offered for the first time at Phillips
de Pury who performed well. Also Shinichi Maruyama's Kusho # 1, sold for
$18,750, and He Yunchang's Earthly Possession, sold for $13,750; all mark new
world auction records for the photographers.

Vanessa Kramer, Director of New York Photographs department, averred, "We are
extremely pleased with the results. The competitive bidding on the higher value
classic and contemporary works reflects the gradually increasing confidence in
the market by sellers and buyers alike."

(Copyright ©2010 by The Photo Review. My thanks to Steve Perloff and The
Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this
information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I
can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription
for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $169.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and
charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph
Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047.)


By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter

Another record-setting album was Roman Vishniac's portfolio The Vanished World,
complete with 12 silver print photographs of Jews living in Poland from 1936 to
1938. The album, which was printed in an edition of 50 in 1977, brought

There was also a suite of 29 portraits of Native Americans by Alexander Gardner,
Chas. Bell and others from the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, late
1860s to early 1870s, $28,800 (fourth place); a copy of Volume 1 of Edward S.
Curtis's magnum opus, The North American Indian, 1907, complete with 78
sepia-toned photogravures, signed and dated by Curtis, a record $15,600 (tied
for ninth place); as well as a portfolio of a different kind, Emmet Gowin's
Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself, with 14 silver prints,
1963-64, printed 1965, one of 100, signed and inscribed and with additional ink
embellishment on the cover, $33,600 (third place).

Several examples of the earliest photographs were among the highlights, such as
a whole-plate daguerreotype of three young sisters attributed to Albert
Southworth and Josiah Hawes, late 1840s--early 1850s, $12,000; and a
quarter-plate daguerreotype of seven placer miners in Northern California,
operating equipment used to separate dirt from gold, early 1850s, $15,600.

Classic 20th-century black-and-white photographic images included Brassaï's
Bijou au Bar de la Lune, Montmartre, oversize ferrotyped silver print, circa
1932, printed late 1950s to early-mid 1960s, $11,400; Henri Cartier-Bresson's
Behind the Gare St. Lazare, silver print, 1932, printed 1980s, $10,200; André
Kertész's Washington Square (Winter), silver print, 1954, printed no later than
1967, which brought $22,800, a record fro a modern print; Alfred Eisenstaedt's
Children at a Puppet Theatre II, Paris, silver print, 1963, printed 1994,
$12,000; and Josef Koudelka's France, silver print, 1973, printed 1981,

Herb Ritts's "Wrapped Torso"

Among the many eye-catching nudes in the sale were three images from Ruth
Bernhard's The Eternal Body Portfolio, silver prints, 1951-1967, printed 1976,
$15,600; and Herb Ritts's Wrapped Torso, platinum print, 1989, $15,600.

A photograph that attracted a lot of media attention was Annie Leibovitz's
portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, New York, Cibachrome print, 1980, taken
just hours before Lennon's death, which sold for $15,600.

The sale totaled $1,180,322, a bit below the low estimate, with a 34% buy-in
rate by lot.

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