Auctions | February 8, 2023

Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon Photographs to Auction

Swann Galleries

Lot 111: Irving Penn, Blast, platinum-palladium print, 1980; printed 1981. Estimate $30,000 to $45,000.

Irving Penn’s exceptionally bold and textural Blast, 1980, printed 1981 ($30,000-45,000) leads Swann Galleries’ winter 2023 sale of Fine Photographs which closes for bidding February 23 at 12pm eastern. 

Other works by Penn include the artist’s charming Old Friends: Balkin, Beaton, Platt Lynes, Joffe, Horst, Rawlings, Blumenfeld, Me (I.P.), Dorian Leigh (Vogue Photographers, Oyster Bay ),1946 ($5,000-7,500); Clown Playing Solitaire, 1947 ($4,000-6,000); and Dancer’s Legs (Kathryn Lee), 1947 ($4,000-6,000.

Twentieth-century master Richard Avedon is represented with a variant of his iconic psychedelic portrait of George Harrison, 1967, printed in rich dye transfer ($15,000-20,000), and his iconic advertising campaign with Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein jeans, 1980 ($4,000-6,000).

Andy Warhol’s dynamic circa-1960 photobooth portraits of Holly Solomon ($15,000-20,000) and his 1980 Polaroid of William Burroughs ($5,000-7,000) introduce a seminal approach to image-making. The brilliant, jewel-like Bari, from the series Paesaggio Italiano, 1990, by Luigi Ghirri represents the contemporary selection ($8,000-12,000).

Classical work is well represented with portfolios from Elliott Erwitt, Ruth Bernhard, Berenice Abbott, and Lawrence Schiller. The sale also features important landscape imagery by Ansel Adams, Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park, 1950, printed 1963-70 ($6,000-9,000), and Harry Callahan Chicago, 1950, printed 1970s ($10,000-15,000).

Portraiture includes an unusual set of seven offset prints made and signed by Diane Arbus from the Collection of Sheila Metzner, 1963-68 ($4,000-6,000), her portrait A Young Brooklyn family going for a Sunday outing, N.Y.C., 1966, printed 1972 ($6,000-9,000), and a portrait of Malcolm X by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1961, printed 1980s ($6,000-9,000).

Timothy O’Sullivan’s brilliantly composed Black Cañon, Colorado River, From Camp 8, Looking Above, 1871 ($12,000-18,0000, headlines the early material, which also includes an array of cased imagery, handsome travel albums, and more. Also on offer is Edward S. Curtis’ iconic Geronimo, 1905, a large-format photogravure from his The North American Indian ($10,000-15,000), as well as Curtis’ Volume V of the landmark publication ($7,000-10,000).

A selection of compelling real photo postcards are on offer, including:

  • Lucia Moholy’s documentation of Bauhaus architecture and artwork, 1923 ($5,000-7,500)
  • photographs of the Museum of Modern Art, 1949-50s ($400-500)
  • a Société Anonyme postcard presumably by Man Ray of Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture “MLLE” (Little French Girl or The First Step III), circa 1920 ($6,000-9,000)

The Estate of Richard T. Rosenthal of Philadelphia completes the sale with an offering of fine art, vernacular, and historical photography. Themes range from auto racing, aviation, mug shots and photographer’s archives. Highlights include an early daguerreotype of a cadet from West Point, circa 1844-45 ($1,500-2,500), a collection of early salted paper prints documenting Philadelphia architecture by Frederick DeBourg Richards, 1855-60 ($4,000-6,000), Alice Austen’s portfolio Street Types of New York, 1896 ($3,000-4,500), and two cyanotypes by Bertha E. Jaques, 1900-10 ($1,400-1,800).

Fine art includes such luminaries as Robert Frank, J.H. Lartigue, Ilse Bing, and Brassaï. Small archives from innovative and important photographers will be featured, most notably a large tri-color carbo group of imagery by the Daily News photographer, Harry Warnecke, 1930s-50s ($2,500-3,500), and a set of hand-colored California botanicals by Lena Scott Harris, circa 1930s ($1,500-2,500).

Bidding is available on the Swann Galleries App and on