ARTnewsletter Archive

Hits and Misses at Swann’s $1.2M Photo Sale

Swann Galleries’ Oct. 19 sale of photographs and photograph albums realized a total of $1.2 million, below its $1.4 million/$2 million estimate, with 238, or 66 percent, of the 363 lots finding buyers.

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ Oct. 19 sale of photographs and photograph albums realized a total of $1.2 million, below its $1.4 million/$2 million estimate, with 238, or 66 percent, of the 363 lots finding buyers.

The top lot was A Trip to Snake Dance, Moqui-Indian-towns and Petrified Forests of Arizona, a portfolio of 76 platinum prints by Adam Clark Vroman based on his travels through Native American villages in the late 19th century. It sold for $48,000, just above the $30,000/45,000 estimate. Another portfolio that did well was The Vanished World, 1930s, a set of 12 photographs by Roman Vishniac depicting life in a Jewish ghetto in Poland. It sold for $43,200, exceeding the $25,000/35,000 estimate.

Many of the portfolios featured historical subject matter, such as Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself, Emmet Gowin’s set of 14 prints documenting life in the American South of the mid-1960s, which sold for $33,600 (estimate: $25,000/35,000), as well as a suite of 29 portraits of Native Americans taken in the 1860s and ’70s by a variety of photographers commissioned by the U.S. government, which sold for $28,800 (estimate: $25,000/35,000).

Individual photographs also brought strong pieces, including André Kertész’s Washington Square (Winter), 1954, printed no later than 1967, which fetched $22,800 on an estimate of $6,000/9,000; Ansel Adams’s Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1927, printed in the 1970s, which sold for $21,600 on an estimate of $20,000/30,000); and Adams’s Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, printed in the 1970s, which sold for $19,200 on an estimate of $12,000/18,000. Three black-and-white photographs by Ruth Bernhard from The Eternal Body Portfolio, 1951–67, printed 1976, sold for $15,600 against an estimate of $10,000/15,000.

Among the works that failed to sell were Paul Strand’s Lathe, Akeley Shop, New York, 1923 (printed no later than 1940), which was estimated at $9,000/12,000, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Cordoba, Spain, 1933, printed in the 1960s, which was also estimated at $9,000/12,000.

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