Issue #196  3/17/2013
Indians, Daguerreotypes, Photographic Prints in Be-hold Auction On March 19-20

The upcoming Be-hold catalog/on-line auction of photographs will be in two sessions.


The first session, on March 19th, offers a stunning collection of photographs of American Indians. Most of the material was collected around 1900 - 1910, and carefully stored since. The photographs are mostly in the mint condition in which they were acquired.

The catalog offers extensive information on each lot by Mike Cowdrey, the results of much original research. These combine historical details with sensitivity to the subjects and the nature of the photographs. These are mostly portraits, and the brilliance of the prints and the information provided bring these images to life. The auction presents these rich offerings in the context of a sale that mostly deals with photography as art. These portraits belong to the great photographic portraits of the era and should interest a wider audience than just collectors who focus on Native American history.

There are 58 prints by Frank A. Rinehart. These are warmer-toned platinum prints on a finer tooth paper than the more familiar later prints on water-color type paper. Those that are colored have been beautifully and precisely colored by Adolph Muhr himself, before the break-up of his partnership with Rinehart. It is now accepted that the most sensitive of Rinehart's portraits were actually made by Muhr, who later made many of the most beautiful of the Curtis portraits. There are many subjects which have rarely been offered.

Twenty-six more portraits were made by De Lancey W. Gill, who, as photographed for the Bureau of American Ethnology, photographed delegates from Indian tribes who came to Washington around 1905. The print quality of these platinum prints should elevate Gill's status as a great portrait photographer and not just a "picture taker."

There are numerous earlier portraits by D.W. Barry, some of famous figures on large mounted cards in mint condition, and some very rare cabinet cards. A few large rare platinum prints by Hillers are reportedly in dazzling condition. Two of Curtis's most famous images are offered in their original folders. There are also important photographs by S. W. Ormsby, and a lovely group of otherwise unrecorded subjects by an amateur photographer, probably a woman. Some are beautifully hand-colored.

There are several other photographs of the American West showing interesting and colorful events in the Indian Territory and Nevada, as well as in California and Alaska.


The second session, held March 20th, begins with 47 lots of daguerreotypes and related material. There are early French daguerreotypes by L.A. Bisson and other French and English makers. There are several outdoor scenes. A lovely ¼-plate post mortem by Southworth and Hawes shows a child as she was in life. In contrast, an ambrotype by Brady shows a corpse in a state of decay.

The portraits of children include a child holding a dove, and several posed with dogs. The section concludes with two images by Platt D. Babbitt--a full plate ambrotype and a large collodion positive transparency that may be one of the great 19th-century landscape photographs.

The auction continues with some early 19th-century material including prints by Claude-Joseph-Desire Charnay, Louis De Clercq, Julien Vallou de Villeneuve and J. J. Hawes.

Modern 20th-century images include six vintage photographs by Robert Frank taken on same trip when he made most of the images used in "The Americans." A large Polacolor self portrait by Frank is presented in its full uncropped form, which includes notations on the borders, with a history of the project that led up to its creation, and details about those borders that make this an important part of the photo.

That same project involved three other photographers, including Robert Heinecken. The sale includes Heinecken's 1978 "Polaroid Drawing Triptych." Two large nudes by Judy Coleman, who studied with Heinecken, were printed from Polaroid photographs that were extensively worked on by scratching, drawing, painting and applying other materials.

Photographs of New York include a beautiful 1920-22 photograph of a scene under the Brooklyn Bridge by Paul Outerbridge Jr., from his estate. The photograph has qualities of Pictorialism, but also has a modernist sensibility in the composition. That modernist element is also present in a group of vintage photographs of New York by Bill Witt, made while he was a member of the Photo League. His study as a painter with Hans Hofmann shows in the composition of the images. A vintage NYC street scene by Berenice Abbott is an additional early New York piece.

There are several important documentary photographs of war, including a rare 1950's print of Robert Capa's "Death of a Spanish Loyalist." WWII photographs include two by W. Eugene Smith. There is a fine vintage print of the iconic "Into the Jaws of Death" and a large photograph of marines on Tarawa, mounted on Masonite. There are large period press prints of two pictures that Margaret Bourke-White made for LIFE magazine.

The pictorialist element is also represented by photographs by Anne Brigman and William Mortensen.

There are also portraits of Charlie Chaplin, and several of Marilyn Monroe, including a large silkscreen print of one of the photographs from Milton Greene's "Black Sitting," and a signed print of Bruno Bernard's [Bernard of Hollywood] portrait of Norma Jean used when she applied for her first film role.

There's a photograph of one of Ralph Meatyard's characteristic images, signed by him, and a large selection of photographs by Eikoh Hosoe.

There are fine examples of several color photographic processes. A 1960 three-color carbro photograph of chanteuse Juliette Gréco by Warnecke has beautiful hand-coloring. This can compare with a rich Evercolor archival pigment print by Neil Folberg that is a digital version of a three-color process. A large photograph of John Pfahl's "Moonrise over Pie Pan" is a Chromogenic print. There are beautiful dye transfer photographs by Richard Misrach and Ernst Haas.

All the material as well as bidding information is presented on the Be-hold.com website at: http://be-hold.com/ .

A preview of the auction material will be in the library of the historic Salmagundi Club, 47 5th Avenue in New York City, now through Monday, March 18th, from 1 p.m.–7 p.m. weekdays, and 1 p.m.–5 p.m. on weekend, plus 1-1/2 hours before each auction session of the 19th and 20th -century photography. Each auction day's session begins at 1 p.m. EST, or 10 a.m. PST.

The internet auction will be conducted from the library. Although this is not an auction house room with auctioneer and gavel, interested people are welcome to attend.

The extensive presentation of the first session, "American Indians and the West," with full color illustrations of each lot, plus interesting and informative text by Mike Cowdrey, will remain an important reference. There are good images and texts with content in the rest of the printed catalog. A subscription to three print catalogs is available for $50 in N. America, $100 elsewhere. There is a subscription form on the be-hold.com website.

If you want this issue only of the printed catalog, it can be ordered for $25 by contacting Larry Gottheim by phone: +1-914-423-5806, or by fax at +1-914-423-5802 or by email at behold@be-hold.com .