Auctions | November 11, 2015

Strong Sale of Photojournalism, Portraiture, and Works by Women at Swann Galleries


New York—Swann Galleries’ October 15 auction of Icons & Images: Fine & Vernacular Photographs brought over $1.4 million and saw particular success for female photographers and documentary photographers.

The highlight of the sale was Sally Mann’s silver print Candy Cigarette, 1989, which sold for $215,000*. The iconic image of Mann’s daughter Jesse wasn’t the only work by a female photographer to perform well in the sale: Morroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi’s oversized chromogenic print Converging Territories #10, 2003, realized $22,500; while Dorothea Lange’s emotional 1936 silver print Migrant Mother, printed 1970s, brought $20,000. Two works by Margaret Bourke-White sold among the top lots: The Liberation of Buchenwald, silver print, 1945, printed 1966-72, which sold for $15,000; and Molten Steel, Otis Steel Company, silver print, 1928-29, which brought $11,875. Contemporary artist Vera Lutter’s Pepsi Cola, Long Island City: IV A, May 20th, 1998, a camera obscura silver print, 1998, brought $11,250.


Photographs by Brett Weston that epitomize the photographer’s interest in nuanced composition were a hit in this auction, including Weston’s portfolio Fifteen Photographs of Japan, silver prints, 1970, sold for $21,250; while Holland Canal, oversized silver print, 1971, printed 1985, brought $16,900. Weston’s works were complimented by intricately orchestrated images from O. Winston Link, whose 1956 silver print Hotshot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, printed 1986, realized, $13,750; while George A. Tice’s stoic Petit’s Mobil Station, oversized silver print, 1974, brought $10,875.

Documentary photographs and works of photojournalism performed well, including Lewis W. Hine’s book Men at Work: Photographic Studies of Modern Men and Machines, first edition, New York, 1932, which brought $12,500; and Hine’s Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner, Lancaster, South Carolina, silver print, 1908, printed 1940s which realized $11,700.  Photojournalist W. Eugene Smith’s oversized silver print of Dr. Ernest Ceriani from The Country Doctor published in LIFE magazine, 1948, printed circa 1953 sold for $12,500; while his heart-wrenching depiction of Minamata disease, Tomoko Uemura in her Bath, silver print, 1971-73 brought $11,700; as did Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado’s Cast of Thousands, Serra Pelada, Brazil, silver print, 1986, printed 1990s.

Portraiture was also popular in this sale, with Edward S. Curtis’s large-format photogravure Bear’s Belly-Arikara, 1908 selling for for $12,500.  Alfred Eisenstaedt’s 1953 silver print portrait of Marilyn Monroe realized $11,700; while Irving Penn’s silver print Colette, Paris, 1951, printed later, realized $10,000; as did a set of three Jim Marshall dye-transfer prints depicting Miles Davis (1970), John Coltrane (1963) and Thelonius Monk (1963), printed circa 1993.

Landscape and natural images sold well, including Ansel Adams 1963 Portfolio #4: What Majestic Word, In Memory of Russell Varian, including fifteen silver prints, which sold for $68,750; as well as Adam’s El Capitan, Sunrise, Winter, Yosemite National Park, silver print, 1968, printed 1976, which brought $18,750.  A group of 4 silver prints of ice crystals by Wilson A. Bentley realized $13,125; while a portfolio containing 7 photographs, one each from classical American Photographers Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, William Eggleston, Lotte Jacobi, Eliot Porter, James Van Der Zee and Garry Winogrand, sold for $9,375.

Complete results are available online via

Swann Galleries’ first photo auction of the 2016 season will take place February 25 and is called Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks. The consignment deadline is November 25, 2015.

For further information, or to consign items to upcoming auctions of Printed & Manuscript Americana, please contact Daile Kaplan at 212-254-4710, extension 21, or via email at

*Prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette, silver print, 1989. Sold October 15, 2015 for $215,000.

Second image: Ansel Adams, Portfolio #4: What Majestic Word, In Memory of Russell Varian, with 15 silver prints, 1963. Sold October 15, 2015 for $68,750.