Auctions | March 4, 2020

Edward Steichen’s White Lotus Brings Record for the Image

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Edward Steichen’s White Lotus, dye transfer print, 1939, printed 1940. Sold to a collector for $81,250, a record for the image.

New York — It was a Who’s Who among American photographers in Classic & Contemporary Photographs at Swann Galleries on Tuesday, February 25. The auction brought $1M and saw competitive bidding in the room and on the Swann Galleries App.

Edward Steichen led the sale with the dye transfer print White Lotus, 1939, printed 1940. The scarce color work brought a record for the image at $81,250. Also by Steichen was a 1922 silver contact print—a portrait of the artist Constantine Brancusi, which sold for $17,500.

Margaret Bourke-White’s 1933 warm-toned silver print The George Washington Bridge, came across the block from the collection of Robert Edward Kiehl, by descent, and earned $81,250. The Weston family provided a strong showing with Edward Weston’s 1930 silver print Eroded Rock earning $12,500 and Brett Weston’s Dunes, Oceano, silver print, 1934, bringing $10,000. Additional works from American stalwarts included Charles Sheeler’s sepia-toned silver print Buggy in a Barn, Doylestown, Pennsylvania (Christmas card), 1915-17, printed 1928, which brought $12,500; and Minor White’s silver prints Beginnings, Rochester, New York (Frosted Window), 1952, and Moon and Wall Encrustations, Puttneyville, NY, 1965, sold for $11,250 apiece.

Farm Security Administration photographers proved successful, with River Rouge Plant (Ford Motor Company), Number 1 Coke Quencher, silver print, 1947, by Walker Evans, won by an institution for $10,000. Dorothea Lange was also present with Family Walking on Highway, Five Children, silver print, 1938, printed circa 1960, $9,375.

Humanist photography featured a run of Henri Cartier-Bresson:  Behind the Gare St. Lazare, silver print, 1932, printed 1980s, and Hyères, France, silver print, 1932, printed 1980s, $11,875 each.

Nineteenth-century works included mammoth-plate albumen prints by Francis Firth: The Pyramids of Sakkarah, from the North East, 1858 ($12,500), and The Second Pyramid from the Southeast, 1858 ($10,625).

The next auction from the Photographs & Photobooks department at Swann Galleries will be Fine Photographs on April 16. Visit or download the Swann Galleries App for more information.