Auctions | March 29, 2018

Daguerreotype Portrait by Gustave Le Gray Makes Auction Debut at Swann Galleries

10-LeGray copy.jpgNew York—On Thursday, April 19, Swann Galleries will offer the auction The Knowing Eye: Photographs & Photobooks, with selections that tackle themes of reflection and examination in medium.

The sale is led by unique prints of iconic masterworks. An early printing of Ansel Adams’s Winter in Yosemite (Pine Forest in Snow), circa 1932, inscribed to Carl Wheat, carries an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. Another exercise in depth in black and white is a vintage and apparently unique print, atypical of his usual presentation style, of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s Premier at La Scala, Milan, circa 1933, also estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

A suite of five photographs by Dorothea Lange during her commission by the WRA document the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps in 1942. The images were censored when it became obvious that Lange’s sympathies lay with the subjects of the project rather than the government. The photographs were subsequently censored. These images have never previously appeared at auction; they are here offered together for $30,000 to $45,000.

An early daguerreotype portrait by Gustave Le Gray also makes its auction debut. The charming image of an unknown woman, circa 1847-48, is one of few works in this medium by the. Still in its original paper mat and bearing a red seal, the piece is valued between $4,000 and $6,000.

The only known extant print of River Rouge Plant, Detroit (with Ford signage on freight car), 1947, by Walker Evans is featured on the cover of the catalogue for the sale. The image was taken as part of a commission for Fortune magazine to document the state of Ford; a negative is held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but no other print can be traced ($15,000 to $25,000).

Immersive vernacular albums from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries paint vivid pictures of bygone lives. Highlights include a strikingly modern album, 1926-27, advertising available billboards throughout the city of Portland, OR, with advertising space highlighted by hand in bright orange ($8,000 to $12,000), and an archive of more than 1,500 silver prints relating to the NASA missions Mercury, Gemini and Apollo ($9,000 to $12,000). Lovingly compiled personal albums show dolls from the 1950s, a British feminist march, My Tour in Europe and exploits at a women’s college. One person’s fixation with the name “Lincoln” is expected to garner $1,500 to $2,500. An increasingly popular selection of salesmen’s sample books includes examples for headstones, neon lights, baby carriages, snacks and Masonic jewelry.

Important eponymous portfolios by Inge Morath, Robert Rauschenberg and Garry Winogrand will also be offered.

The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at

Image: Lot 10: Gustave Le Gray, Portrait of a young woman, daguerreotype, circa 1847-48. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.