Auctions | September 22, 2017

Sotheby's Presents Important Daguerrotypes from the Stanley B. Burns, MD, Collection

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 11.39.35 AM.pngNEW YORK-Sotheby’s is pleased to offer a selection of important daguerreotypes from the renowned collection of Stanley B. Burns, MD in its bi-annual Photographs auction on 5 October 2017 in New York. Collected with passion and connoisseurship over the last four decades, this fine group of daguerreotypes provides a fascinating glimpse into mid-19th century life, from astonishing medical studies, occupational portraits, post-mortems, and architectural studies, to gold rush era landscapes and cityscapes. The collection will be on view to the public alongside the Photographs exhibition from 30 September - 4 October. 

Dr. Burns’s prized collection is especially rich in medical studies, including a haunting quarter-plate daguerreotype of a Physician with his Operative Kit (above, estimate $15/25,000), an exceptional quarter-plate daguerreotype of Dr. Charles Linnaeus Allen Studying Anatomy with Student (estimate $25/35,000), as well as a fascinating selection of Portraits of Persons with Physical Abnormalities (estimate $8/12,000). Rare gold-mining landscapes, such as Street Scene in Benicia, Solano County, California (estimate $30/50,000) and Chinese Gold Miners Posed with Nuggets, California (estimate $30/50,000) offer historical insight into the Gold Rush era in the American West. 

Fascinating Photographs from the Collection of Stanley B. Burns, MD

While the collection is primarily based on photographs by American artists, there are two outstanding works by French photographers, including a luminous quarter-plate daguerreotype depicting a Ceremony Commemorating the Abolition of Slavery in the French Empire, Martinique (estimate $50/70,000) and The Artist and His Wife: A Narrative Portrait (estimate $70/100,000), a rare six-plate narrative daguerreotype depicting the historical painter Pierre Louis Alexandre Abel Terral and his wife Catherine Célina Porion.

A practicing opthamologist and lifelong collector across many fields, Dr. Burns kick-started his passion for photography in the 1970s when he purchased his first medical daguerreotype. Since then, he has devoted his life to photographic history and has amassed an unrivalled collection of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and paper prints. In 1977, he created the Burns Archive to share his unique discoveries and promote the history of photography to the world. Dr. Burns has authored more than 60 books and essays on the subject, all illustrated with works from his vast collection. His photographs have been the basis of dozens of exhibitions at prominent museum and universities, either through loan or donation, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum. His collection and expertise have been instrumental tools of study for television and filmmakers; most recently he served as consultant for Steven Soderbergh’s HBO/Cinemax series The Knick.