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Early Photographic albums, classic black and white images, and works of contemporary art draw bidders
Berenice Abbott, Retrospective Portfolio, 50 photographs, New York, 1930-1960, printed 1982. Sold for $90,000. Photo: Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Swann Galleries’ October 18 auction of Fine Photographs opened with a frenzy of bids for early photographic albums, and interest remained high as the sale continued with classic 20th-century images, iconic examples of photojournalism and contemporary art. Along the way several auction records were set.

Daile Kaplan, Vice President and Director of Photographs at Swann, said, “We are delighted with the results of this auction, in which we realized multiple world records for a host of 19th and 20th century photographs. This stellar performance underscores the growing interest in classical photography.”

The sale’s top lot was Berenice Abbott’s dazzling Retrospective Portfolio, with 50 large-format silver prints, including the artist’s celebrated New York City views, 1930-60, printed 1982, which brought a record $90,000*.

Also setting records were two early albums containing images of exotic locales, a group of 10 views of Jerusalem by Auguste Salzmann, salted paper prints, 1856, $60,000; a set of nine images of China, albumen prints, 1860, $57,600; as well as Edward S. Curtis’s luminous Canyon del Muerto, orotone, 1906, $66,000.

Other featured early photographs were Francis Frith’s The Pyramids of Dahshoor from the South West, mammoth albumen print, 1858, and Eugène Atget’s Vieille Boutique Louis XVI, Quai Bourbon, albumen print, 1900, $16,800 each.

Record setters from the late 20th century were Sally Mann’s Candy Cigarette, silver print, 1989, which brought $38,400, a record for this format, and one of Lewis Baltz’s images from The New Industrial Parks series, silver print, 1974, which sold for $15,600, a record for an image from this series. A second The New Industrial Parks image brought $11,400.

Among the fine Ansel Adams photographs in the sale were Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, silver print, 1941, printed 1970s, $31,200, and Half Dome, Orchard, Winter, Yosemite National Park, silver print, circa 1935, printed 1970s, $19,200.

Other classic black and white works were Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s La Buena Fama Durmiendo [The Good Reputation Sleeping], silver print, 1939, printed 1980s, $12,000; Helen Levitt’s New York (Children and Broken Mirror), silver print, circa 1942, printed 1980s, $15,600; Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Eunuch of the Imperial Court, Peking, China, silver print, 1948, printed 1980s, $12,000; Harry Callahan’s Wells Street, Chicago, silver print, 1949, printed circa 1970, $12,000; and Brett Weston’s Fifteen Photographs of Japan, portfolio of silver prints, 1970, $19,200.

More contemporary were Ormond Gigli’s fashion image Girls in the Windows, New York City, chromogenic dye coupler print, 1960, printed 2000s, $13,200; Cindy Sherman’s As Marilyn Monroe, chromogenic print, 1982, $16,800; and Mary Ellen Mark’s In America, portfolio with 10 silver prints, 1986-91, printed 1991-92, $11,400.

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