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Christie's New York to Offer Extraordinary Collection of Unique Daguerreotypes
Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, Rome. T. de la concorde. Ent. Inter., 1842. Daguerreotype. Estimate: $45,000-65,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s presents A Historic Photographic Grand Tour: Important Daguerreotypes by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey in an exclusive sale this fall. The auction, featuring 74 daguerreotype photographs, hails from a private collector and will be offered at Christie’s New York on October 7, 2010. The sale is expected to achieve in excess of $2 million.

For decades, the name of Girault de Prangey had been a source of intrigue to scholars and collectors of early photography. A naturally gifted artist, de Prangey was born into a patrician French family in 1804. He applied to daguerreotypes the same passion and expertise he held for art and specifically Islamic architecture— eventually becoming one of the earliest masters of the medium. The daguerreotype was the first practical photographic process. Employing mercury vapors and asphaltum, it fixed the optical image from a camera obscura on a highly polished, silver-coated copper plate. De Prangey’s first photographs date from 1841 as a result of experimentation with Louis Daguerre’s invention on the grounds of his villa in Courcelles-Val-d’Esnoms.

He partook in the Grand Tour throughout Greece and Italy along with other 18th and 19th century artists and intellectuals, documenting traces of classical Greek and Roman culture from architectural relics and historical locations. He traveled throughout the Mediterranean including Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt and captured, what are often viewed as static subjects, as lively scenes.

“De Prangey recognized how Daguerre’s invention could very effectively serve his own program of the scientific analysis and documentation of architecture,” said Philippe Garner, Christie’s International Head of Photographs. “Though more than half a century were to pass before the daguerreotype plates that he brought back from this epic journey were to become sufficiently known, they established him as a seminal pioneering figure within the history of photography.”

Highlights from the sale include:

• Rome. Gracostasos- Face S.E., 1842 (estimate: $40,000-50,000) depicting three columns as part of an architectural ruin

• Denderah, 1844 (estimate $60,000-9000) an image of a wall of hieroglyphics with acute details.

• Rome. Prise de la colonne de Trajaane, 1842 (estimate: $45,000-65,000), a panorama of Rome, lush with flora.

• Rome. T.dela concorde. Ent. Inter., 1842 (estimate: $45,000-65,000) the top of a colonnade.

De Prangey’s technique was unique and noted by experts and art historians for the perfect balance of art and science. He also notably hand-cut the silver-coated, copper plates, and set them vertically or horizontally depending on the subject.

This is Christie’s third sale from the archive of the artist. The previous auctions took place in Christie’s London, in May 2003 and May 2004, achieving $2.24 million and $456,244, respectively. Christie’s holds the world record for a daguerreotype by De Prangey selling Athènes. 1842. T.[emple] de J.[upiter] Olympien. Pris de l'Est., 1842 at $916,126. The pioneer historian of photography, Helmut Gernsheim first purchased some de Prangey plates in the 1950s that became part of his collection acquired by the University of Texas in Austin in 1966. Over twenty years later, André Jammes added some de Prangey daguerreotypes to his prestigious collection. Since the first two sales of de Prangey daguerrotypes in 2003 and 2004 at Christie’s they have been included in important daguerreotype exhibitions and collections at such institutions as the Musée d'Orsay, Musée Carnavalet, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Christie's | A Historic Photographic Grand Tour: Important Daguerreotypes | Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey | Philippe Garner |

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