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Distinguished private collections and standalone works illuminate Christie's October photographs sale
William Eggleston (B. 1939), Memphis (Tricycle), c. 1970. Dye-transfer print, printed 1980. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s October 4-5 Photographs sale will offer a range of exceptional photographs that demonstrate the breadth and scope of the medium’s trajectory from the 19th century to the present. Included in the various-owners catalogue are groupings from some of the finest private and institutional collections and individual masterworks, with seminal photographs by artists such as Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Henri CartierBresson, Peter Beard, William Eggleston, Edward Weston and Pierre Dubreuil. The Photographs sale will begin on the evening of October 4, following the single-owner sale of Richard Avedon - Photographs, with a selection of 45 works that echo Avedon’s oeuvre. These works encapsulate many of the most important fashion photographs of the 20th century, with pivotal works by Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Francesca Woodman and Sante D’Orazio.

Peter Beard’s Orphan Cheetah Triptych, 1968 (estimate: $100,000-150,000). This large-format work demonstrates Peter Beard’s unique relationship with his subject matter and with the medium of photography. At the heart of his enterprise, and of this spectacular work, is his ongoing written and visual account of the relentless destruction of Africa’s wild animals and their habitat by the hand of man. We are reminded, in the density and multi-media character of this artefact, of the over scaled diary pages that have been a constant thread through the decades of Beard’s career and in which he has vividly illustrated the story of his life – an extraordinary life lived as a stubbornly independent adventurer and as an artist who has created his own distinct medium.

The Peter Turnley collection will be highlighted by Gifts to a Master Printer: Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. This important and very personal collection of 32 photographs includes many of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s most celebrated images, those that secured his position as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. This selection is particularly illuminating, as the prints were gifts from Cartier-Bresson to the preeminent printer Voja Mitrovic as an expression of his immense gratitude for Mitrovic’s contribution to his body of work. The collection is expected to realize in excess of $400,000. Additionally, the sale will also comprise several photographs that Peter Turnley acquired from French masters, including Robert Doisneau’s Le Baiser de L’Hôtel de Ville, 1950 (estimate $10,000-15,000).

For collectors of landscapes, there are a number of important examples from Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Carleton Watkins. Among the selection is Yosemite Valley, California: Photographs by Ansel Eaton Adams, 1930 (estimate: $25,000-35,000), an early portfolio that Adams originally gifted to the manager at the Yosemite Country Store as a token of his friendship. Also included is Edward Weston’s Pirámide del Sol, Mexico, 1923 (estimate: $120,000-180,000), a remarkable platinum print that implicitly suggests Weston’s emerging modernist vision.

Carleton Watkins will be represented by six mammoth-plate albumen prints that have been de-accessioned from a West Coast institution, with estimates that range from $20,000-60,000. In 1867, Watkins embarked on his first expedition to Oregon, taking with him a daunting amount of photographic paraphernalia. The results of this arduous and intrepid voyage were extraordinary. His stereographs from this trip were extremely popular, given contemporary taste for such material. However, his 59 mammothplate albumen prints, to which the following six photographs belong, were, quite simply, a tour de force – masterpieces created by Watkins at his mature finest. Monumental and unique in both subject and form, they capture the beauty and diversity of the Columbia River landscape between Vancouver, Washington and the Celilo Falls just a few years before its gradual industrialization by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. Highlights include Eagle Creek Sawmill, Cascades of the Columbia, 1867 (estimate: $30,000-50,000).

The sale will feature three significant works by Pierre Dubreuil, including Harlequin Still Life, 1923 (estimate: $80,000-120,000). After the demise of the Photo-Secession and the Linked Ring, the London Salon, founded in 1910, became the most highly influential artistic photography society, encouraging more adventurous studies than the rival Royal Photographic Society. Dubreuil was closely associated with the Salon and reserved his best work for its annual exhibition, including Harlequin, Still Life, 1923. This is the only known print of the image.

William Eggleston will be represented by seven strong works. The group is highlighted by the sale’s top lot, a 1980 dye-transfer print of the artist’s decisive Memphis (Tricycle), c. 1970 (estimate: $250,000-350,000).

Among the contemporary selection are several works by Hiroshi Sugimoto, including Colors of Shadow, C1032, 2006 (Estimate: $30,000-50,000) – pictured right. Colors of Shadow was the first series undertaken by Sugimoto in colour. The present image, characteristic of the artist and of the series, reduces his subject – an architectural interior – to its most minimal, emblematic elements, a discreet, nuanced play of geometric form and tone. Additional highlights in this category include Thomas Ruff’s 09h 58m/-40°, 1990 (estimate: $80,000-120,000), a large and enigmatic image from the artist’s Sterne series, and Massimo Vitali’s Amadores (Triptych), 2004 (estimate: $60,000-80,000)

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