Issue #228  12/15/2016
Important Gérard Lévy Photo Collection Goes up for Sale in Paris on Dec. 20th at Drouot

The Millon and The Baron Ribeyre Auction houses will jointly present on December 20th at 3 pm CET at the Hotel Drouot, Salon 1 at 9 rue Drouot, Paris the photographic collection of more than 300 photographs of one of the biggest figures in the art market of the second half of the 20th century. Called the man with the carnation for the flower he wore daily on his lapel, Gérard Lévy (1934-2016) centered his career around photography and Asian art. The auction is entitled: " Gérard Lévy, L'excellence d'un regard."

A respected expert in Asian arts, Gérard Lévy was also known as a precursor in the field of photography collecting. He lent rare and exceptional photographic works from his own collection to numerous museums and institutions throughout his life, sparking a need for the creation of permanent photographic collections in museums such as the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. His guidance extended from the professional to the amateur and many sought his opinion on how to develop and enrich their own collections, such as the producer Sondra Gilman, now at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Gérard Lévy's photography collection is highly esteemed not only for the authors represented but also by the history of photography it retraces. From the first explorations of the medium with full-plate or stereo daguerreotypes by Marie-Charles-Isidore Choiselat, Camille Dolard and Pierre Ambroise Richebourg, to salt and albumen paper prints by Gustave Le Gray, Félix Nadar, André Giroux and John B. Greene, to silver gelatin prints by Man Ray, Germaine Krull, Brassaï and Dora Maar and much more, this collection represents the defining moments in the history of photography.

Félix Nadar's Maternité is estimated at 40,000-60,000€.
Félix Nadar's Maternité is estimated at 40,000-60,000€.

This auction presents Gérard Lévy's collection in four chapters":

Chapter 1: His primitives: Among the many jewels of this collection, Félix Nadar's Maternité stands out. The author's son, Paul, sleeps peacefully in the arms of a close family friend, Madame Auguste Lefranc. The softness of the paper and the rich details and deep brown tones create an affectionate atmosphere, while the tenderness of this gentle embrace is accentuated by the intimate circular framing. The very essence of motherhood is emphasized as all attention is continually brought back to the serene face of the sleeping child, the focal point. This will be the first time that this remarkable salt paper print estimated 40,000-60,000€ will be exposed, having been previously in the Nadar family collection for many years.

Chapter 2: His travelers: Another rarity is Camille Dolard's full-plate daguerreotype. Representing himself in a self-portrait as a hookah smoker in an oriental setting, this early daguerreotype from 1845 is nothing short of exceptional. The excellent quality of the exposure is matched by Dolard's disconcerting gaze. This daguerreotype is part of a series of three "existential" self-portraits in the role of various "types": as the "orientalist", as the "hypochondriac (malade imaginaire)" and as the "artist". This daguerreotype, also estimated 40,000-60,000€, is reproduced in Nissan Perez's "Focus East early photography in the Near East 1839-1885" (Ed. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1988).

Chapter 3: His nudes: The Gérard Lévy collection boasts a series of erotic and pornographic colored stereo daguerreotypes representing the male, and of course, the female nude. Many works from this ensemble are reproduced in books on the nude in early photography and have been exposed in several museums in France. Another gem is an albumen print by an unidentified author (probably in the sculptor Charles Simart's entourage) of a nude male in an artist's studio, estimated 4,000-6,000€.

Chapter 4: His moderns: The auction will culminate with silver gelatin prints by Man Ray, Germaine Krull, Brassaï, Willy Riethof, Theodore Lux Feininger, Ergy Landau, Pierre Boucher, Hans Finsler, Willy Maywald, Jean Painlevé and Raoul Ubac. A notable print from this section is of Dora Maar's, Villa à vendre 1936, a unique example of her collage and photomontage experimentation. Estimated 60,000-80,000€.

Man Ray's Rayograph, untitled (hands and spiral)
Man Ray's Rayograph, untitled (hands and spiral)

The most celebrated and famous works from Gérard Lévy's collection are his Man Ray's. From an ensemble of nine silver gelatin prints that will be presented during this auction, Man Ray's Rayograph, untitled (hands and spiral), will steal the show. These two prints, undeniably important, of a unique nature and essential to Man Ray's life work have been exposed around the world in numerous museum exhibitions such as: the National Museum of American Art, Washington DC, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Menil Collection, Houston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kunsthalle, Krems, the Fotomuseum, Winterthur, the Grand Palais, Paris, the Tate Gallery, London, the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Public exhibition
Saturday, December 17th 2016 11am – 6pm
Monday, December 19th 2016 11am – 6pm
Hôtel Drouot, salon 1
9 Rue Drouot - 75009 Paris

Christophe Gœury
Expert en photographies de collection
Tél : + 33 (0)6 16 02 64 91

The catalog is available upon request from the Photography Department at the Millon Auction House (contacts below)

For all inquiries, to receive the catalog, for information about leaving absentee bids or receiving condition reports or to take an appointment, please contact the Millon Auction House:

Département Photographie
Tel : + 33 (0)7 88 09 91 86

Auction contact
Tel : +33 (0)1 47 27 76 71