The Auction Report

The spring auction season opens with a much anticipated bang on April 26 at Phillips with a 180 lot single owner sale from the esteemed collection of Warren Coville. A Detroit native and photographer, Coville amassed most of his collection in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Aficionados may recall a well-traveled museum show Pictorialism into Modernism. The Clarence H. White School of Photography, drawn from the Coville collection. While that curated trove is not being sold (purist anti-deaccessionists can stand at ease) it does reflect the high quality of the material. From Clarence H. White, two sublime vintage platinum prints from 1904, Warren Weiant Looking at Globe and Warren Weiant Sitting in Bedroom, capture the likes of a neighbor’s son in Newark, Ohio before the artist made his journey to New York (each est. $2,000-4,000) Portraits of children are heavily represented, as evidenced by a group of five Gertrude Kasebier images, ranging from a platinum print of Flora from 1897 (est. $6,000-8,000) to Rosette from 1904 (est. $8,000- 10,000) The offerings, in fact, cover a wider aperture than White’s circle, ranging from a stunning Julia Margaret Cameron albumen print from 1862, Alfred Tennyson and his Sons, to a vintage pair of Edward Westons. The earlier Weston, Nude and Pine Branch from 1923, featuring a standing nude against a Chinese screen (est. $20,000-30,000) is a graceful counterpoint to Tina on the Azotea from 1924, representing a classic nude from his famed beach studies (est. $30,000-40,000) Paul Outerbridge, Jr continues the nude on the beach theme in his late 1930s carbro print featuring an AfricanAmerican model, Nude on Beach (est. $10,000-15,000) and to more modern times with Ruth Bernhard’s famed Eternal Body portfolio from 1976, containing ten images (est. $30,000-40,000).

Swann Galleries’ modernist-tinted sale on April 27 showcases an xrated group of silver print photomontages bound in book form by the Czech avant-garde painter and book designer Jindrich Styrsky from 1933 (est. $20,000-30,000) On a decidedly more conservative bent, though unusual subject matter for the artist, including artificially lit scenes, Ansel Adams’ 57-print strong assemblage, Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps, circa 1947 depicts various uniformed women performing staged civil defense activities (est. $30,000-40,000) From an earlier era, yet still in the documentarian vein, comes a rare 19th century portfolio by Timothy O’Sullivan and John Moran of the Darien expedition to Panama from 1870-1871. It includes 26 images relating to early scouting reports on the massive Panama Canal project that did not begin construction until 1904 (est. $30,000-40,000) The Civil War also makes a grand entrance with an evocative archive of some 54 pristine images once belonging to Brig. General Albert Ordway documenting the military campaign for the Union Army in Chattanooga and Knoxville (est. $20,000-25,000) In the spooky spiritualist department, a trove of 128 silver prints relating to ghosts and ectoplasm hail from 1900-1910 (est. $6,000-9,000) Swann hopes to repeat or at least partially echo its record-smashing performance last April with another Imogen Cunningham flower, this time with Cactus from 1930-1935 consigned by the granddaughter of a Cunningham childhood friend who received the warm-toned print as a wedding gift from the photographer (est. $40,000-60,000) Magnolia Blossom fetched $211,500 at Swarm’s last April.

Sotheby’s rolls in the evening of April 27 with a spectacular single owner sale of the Boston daguerreians Southworth & Hawes from the estate of Massachusetts collector David Feigenbaum. It is a massive sale of 240 daguerreotypes, with over 70 in whole plate form. Only a handful are cased and the entire brood was found after the collector’s death in his basement with the lags housed in their original slatted plate boxes. The duo of Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes turned out an esteemed torrent of daguerreotypes in the Boston area from the mid-1840s to the early 1860s, including views of Boston’s streets and docks, portraits of the famous, such as Daniel Webster, as well as more mundane sitters. Highlights include a view of the Boston Customs House (est. $40,000-60,000) and two studies of a sleeping baby (each est. $50,000-70,000) Boston as subject matter gets more prime time the same evening with a large group of paper photographs by Hawes and others that Feigenbaum, whose family operated the Tremont Camera Exchange on Bromfield Street from the 1890s to the early 1950s, also collected. The action resumes on April 28 with more choice offerings, among them, The Seven Words a powerhouse series of seven platinum prints by F Holland Day in its original black lacquered wooden exhibition frame and dated 1894. Representing Christ on the cross, the artist took on the painful and demanding role himself in an early example of performance art a la Chris Burden. A rare album by Man Ray documenting a Parisian feature film circa 1929 and including an inscribed self-portrait, is the wild card of the sale. Still housed in their original glassine paper dividers and bearing the photographer’s stamp on the backs of each photograph, the cinematic group of thirty-plus images includes actual film stills from the set as well as individual portraits of actors.

The week of sales culminates at Christie’s on April 29 with rousing 19th century material including a rare daguerreotype portrait of none other than Albert Sands Southworth from 1840 and credited as a collaboration between Southworth and his first partner, Joseph Pennell (est. $70,000-90,000) Other highlights are a salted paper print from a waxed paper negative view by Edouard Denis Baldus of House of Princess Mathilde, circa 1854 (est. $30,000-40,000) an historic crowd shot, Lincoln Delivering the Gettysburg Address from 1863 by David Bachrach (est. $10,000-15,000) and a group by unknown daguerreians of American political figures including Daniel Webster (est. $5,000- 7,000) and Henry Clay (est. $5,000-7,000) Breaking well into the 20th century Pierre Dubreuil’s Woman Driver an oil print from 1928 (est. $50,000-70,000) forms a high-octane group of Dubreuils from the Jacobson collection, a portion of which sold last April at Christie’s for $473,750. Man Ray assumes a starring role again with a rare portrait of Marcel Duchamp and a female model disrobed as Adam and Eve, but titled Cine-Sketch. Adam and Eve from 1924. Pepper II from 1929, Edward Weston’s superb and believed to be unique print (est. $100 000-150 000 gamely competes for center stage with a remarkable suite of four prints of Dora Maar from the famed Maar/Picasso collaboration that appeared in Cahiers d’Art in May 1937 (each est. $30,000-70,000) Closing on a surrealist note, a famed group of thirteen Eugene Atget prints from the storied collection of Tristan Tzara, including the rare print, Joueuer d’Orgue, circa 1920 (est. $30,000-40,000) is bound to draw sustained applause.

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