Auctions | May 8, 2017

Fine Photographs & Photobooks at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.50.42 AM.pngOn 18 May Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions will hold a sale of Fine Photographs and Photobooks at their new London base, 16-17 Pall Mall, St James’s. The auction features 175 lots with estimates from £100 up to £5,000, with works dating from the early years of the art right up to the present day.

Head of Department, Justine Gruser comments, ‘An extraordinary collection of photographs and photobooks covering an impressive range of subjects and photographers will be on offer in the sale this May, coinciding with the Photo London Fair and many satellite events related to the medium. From beautiful photographs of Japan and New York cityscapes to portraits of cultural icons including Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, the sale explores many sides of photography with several early American photographs and documentary photography.’

Highlights include fifty-two hand-coloured albumen prints of Japan from the 1860s-90s by a range of photographers including Felice Beato (1832- 1909), who was renowned for his views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of East Asia (Lot 13, Est £1,200-1,500). The lot includes portraits of tradesmen, geishas and street sellers and rare prints of hara-kiri and crucifixion, as well as street scenes and landscapes of Nagasaki, Kamamura and Tokyo.

The sale includes fascinating and vivid pictures of New York by various photographers such as William Gordon Shields with his iconic image of Brooklyn Bridge, 1916 (Lot 32, Est. £2,000 - £3,000) and William Klein, Staten Island Ferry, 1955 (Lot 92, Est. £2,000 - £3,000). Klein commented on photographing the city, “The kinetic quality of New York, the kids, dirt, madness - I tried to find a photographic style that would come close to it. So I would be grainy and contrasted and black. I’d crop, blur, play with the negatives. I didn’t see clean technique being right for New York. I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter like the New York Daily News.’

Also featured is The New York Telephone Building, 1936, by Berenice Abbott (Lot 30, Est. £2,500 - £3,000). Abbott, an American, is known for capturing the city and chronicling the buildings and neighbourhoods of Manhattan, many of which are no longer in existence. Social Patron (1948) by Louis Faurer serves as another lively snapshot of the city (Lot 36, Est. £1,200 - £1,500).

An engaging photograph of G. F. Watts, the Victorian painter, sculptor and Royal Academician, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815- 1879) is another sale highlight. The work of Julia Margaret Cameron was recently recognised in a dedicated exhibition held at the V&A. This print was originally in a scrapbook belonging to the artist Edward Clifford which was gifted by Clifford to Henry Blackwell Harris, one of the founders of the Oriental Ceramics Society, who had lodged with him in his Kensington Square flat from 1898 until his death in 1907. This photograph carries an estimate of £1,200 - £1,500 (Lot 15). 

The May auction also includes works by Elsbeth Juda (1911 - 2014). Relatively little was known about Juda until her first major exhibition at the age of 98 which reflected on an accomplished career of 45 years. Juda worked for The Ambassador magazine in London, a publication her husband launched after the pair fled Nazi Germany. She was also a respected portraitist, photographing many artist friends such as Norman Parkinson and Graham Sutherland. A key highlight is a portrait of Henry Moore in his studio at Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, 1953, titled King and Queen (Lot 27 Est. £1,200 - £1,500). Juda was also asked to photograph Winston Churchill to provide visual references for Graham Sutherland’s portrait of the former Prime Minister, commissioned by the Houses of Parliament for his 80th birthday. Sir Winston Churchill, (at home in Chartwell, Kent), Lot 26, carries an estimate of £1,200 - £1,500.

A striking photograph of a down-to-earth 19- year-old Marilyn Monroe, then known as Norma Jean Baker, by Hungarian-Romanian photographer, Andre De Dienes (1913-1985) is a stand-out portrait from the auction, (Lot 44, Est. £800-1,200). 

Additional celebrity portraiture is well represented with a number of iconic portraits from a private collection including Madonna, True Blue, 1986, by fashion photographer Herb Ritts (Lot 65, Est. £5,000- 7,000); a beautiful photograph of Claudia Schiffer, Ellen Von Unwerth (Lot 66, Est. £2,000 - £3,000); Annie Leibovitz’s portrait of Meg Ryan on the beach, 1995 (Lot 72, Est. £3,000 - £5,000); and Michelle Pfeiffer by Terry O’Neill, 2010 (Lot 66, Est. £500 - £700). 

Four photographs by French photographer Yan Morvan are also presented. This series was unknown until a recent exhibition which explored the experience of this famous war-photographer in a suburban bike gang in the 1970s. These 'bad boys' of the time are captured in their more intimate environment and reflect a very outrageous and still beautiful representation of a rebellious French youth from a few decades ago (Lots 117-120, Est. £2,000- 3,000 each). 

Works by the following photography masters also appear: Felix Bonflis, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julius Shulman, Paul Strand, Ruth Bernhard, Mario Giacomelli, Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Ansel Adams, Sebastiao Salgado, Steve McCurry and many others. 

Image: Lot 13: Japan, 1860s-90s, Felice Beato (1832-1909) and others, fifty-two hand-coloured albumen prints. Est. £1,200 - £1,500