Next month, Sotheby’s Photographs department will mark its Golden Jubilee with a major auction that features 50 famous images by some of the greatest names in photography – from William Fox Talbot onwards.
One of the major highlights is an archive of nearly 200 early photographs by Talbot (auction estimate $300/500,000). Gifted in the 1840s by Talbot to his half-sister, Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford, below, this collection has been passed down through the family for nearly two centuries and comes to auction for the first time.
Comprising loose photographs, albums, The Pencil of Nature, Sun Pictures in Scotland, and Horatia’s personal sketchbook, it is arguably the most important lot of 19th century photographs to ever come to market, according to Sothebys.
The subjects vary from scenes of Lacock Abbey – Talbot’s home near Bath, now owned by the National Trust – and still lifes and botanical images, to portraits of family members and friends. Some of the Talbot images are well known, others have hardly been seen outside the family.
On the subject of photography pioneers Eugène Atget’s Untitled (Male Nude) is also up for sale, estimate $100/150,000).
Sothebys is also emphasising the number of great women photographers featured in the auction. Amongst the offerings is a rare early print of Triangles, Imogen Cunningham’s Modernist masterpiece from 1928 (estimate $150/250,000). Featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1999 exhibition The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-1950, the present work is the earliest print of this image to come to market in more than two decades.
Then there is Lee Miller’s Nude, dated to 1930 while the photographer was living in Paris and in a relationship with the surrealist Man Ray – it’s the only example of this image to ever appear at auction. Other significant offerings include Anne Brigman’s The Dying Cedar (estimate $12/18,000).
Another big name to be featured in the auction is Ansel Adams. An early print of his iconic 1941 image Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is estimated to fetch an eye-watering $500/700,000). Edward Weston fans, meanwhile, should be able to get his ‘Cabbage’ for $60/90,000.
Big money is also predicted for an early print of Robert Frank’s US 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas from his hugely influential book, The Americans.
It is estimated between $400/600,000. Depicting Frank’s wife and children peering sleepily through the windshield of their car, the image is one of the most intimate in the book, and, as such, was one of the least-printed.
The auction also features Serra Pelada, Gold Mine, by Salgado, which shows mud-soaked men hunting for gold in Brazil’s northeastern state of Pará (estimate $100/150,000). Nobuyoshi Araki is featured too – fans of his bondage and geisha images won’t be disappointed but the collection also features flowers and lizards.
Absolutely nothing to do with bondage, Martin Parr is also represented by work from his series, ‘The Last Resort’, capturing the British on holiday in 1980s (estimate $10/15,000).