Auctions | March 30, 2017

Scarce Photobooks & Iconic Modern Images at Swann Galleries' April Photographs Sale

17-Bradford-Cover copy.jpgNew York—On Thursday, April 20, Swann Galleries will offer Images & Objects: Photographs & Photobooks, with selections exploring the many functions and purposes of the media since its inception.

The top lot of the sale is The Arctic Regions, 1873, a sumptuously bound narrative of American artist William Bradford’s seven expeditions to the Arctic, illustrated with 141 mounted albumen photographs. Scenes include massive ice floes looming over his ship, Panther, nearly abstract views of icebergs and portraits of indigenous people (“Eskimeaux”); the volume is expected to fetch $100,000 to $150,000.

Eadweard Muybridge, another early master to use the nascent media for scientific purposes, will be represented in the sale by 60 plates from his magnum opus, Animal Locomotion, 1887. Subjects include women in motion, various exotic animals and a self-portrait by the artist ($40,000 to $60,000).

Works that reveal the enduring fascination with the American West include a run of orotones by Edward S. Curtis, led by An Oasis in the Badlands, 1905, with an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. Ansel Adams is represented in the sale by his iconic 1941 silver print, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico and the extremely rare deluxe edition of Yosemite and the Range of Light, 1979 ($30,000 to $45,000 and $10,000 to $15,000, respectively), among others.

As New York’s oldest specialized auction house, Swann Galleries’ Photographs & Photobooks sales consistently offer a premier selection of works exploring the dramatic growth of the city in the first half of the twentieth century. Iconic views include Berenice Abbott’s City Arabesque, 1938 ($6,000 to $9,000), and a run of Lewis W. Hine’s images from the construction of the Empire State Building. A selection of works by beloved New York street photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) offers glimpses into the lives of bygone New Yorkers with Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1940, and Coney Island, 1940 ($2,000 to $3,000 and $7,000 to $10,000, respectively). The breathtaking silver print New York, 1931, by Alfred Stieglitz, taken from his office window, is valued at $25,000 to $35,000.

Camera Work Number 36, 1903, with 16 photogravures by Stieglitz, headlines the selection of photobooks with an estimate of $18,000 to $22,000. Bringing the form into the world of the avant-garde is Jack Smith's The Beautiful Book, 1960-62, estimated at $14,000 to $18,000. The self-titled documentary portfolio by Danny Lyon features 30 silver prints, including iconic images from his series Conversations with the Dead and Bikeriders ($30,000 to $40,000), while ?douard Boubat’s complete self-titled portfolio of 15 original silver prints is valued to $14,000 to $18,000.

Robert Frank’s Sick of Goodby’s, Mabou, silver print, 1978, a gift to his friend, the artist Sylvain Cousineau, is featured in the sale. The influential photograph is estimated at $30,000 to $45,000, and was published in Frank’s The Lines of My Hand, a signed first edition of which is also featured in the sale ($3,000 to $4,500).

Further highlights include Lee Miller's circa 1929-32 unique solarized portrait of critic and editor George Jean Nathan ($10,000 to $15,000), alongside Irving Penn's 1947 portrait of Nathan with his colleague and collaborator, the great H.L. Mencken, valued at $7,000 to $10,000.

Contemporary works in the sale date to as recently as 2007, with Abelardo Morell’s Upright Camera Obscura Image of Piazetta San Marco, Looking Southeast in Office, Venice ($3,000 to $4,500).  Untitled (Human Skull), 2002, a unique and oversize daguerreotype Adam Fuss, is expected to sell between $15,000 and $25,000.

The auction will be held Thursday, April 20, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, April 15 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, April 17 through Wednesday, April 19 from noon to 5 p.m.; and Thursday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. Also available by appointment.

An illustrated auction catalogue will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at 212-254-4710, extension 21, or via e-mail at

Image: Lot 17 William Bradford, The Arctic Regions, with 141 albumen prints, London, 1873. Estimate $100,000 to $150,000.