Issue #232  6/7/2017
Second Part of Gérard Lévy's Photography Collection Goes up for Sale in Paris in Two Auctions on June 13th and 16th

Following the success of the first auction of Gérard Lévy's photography collection last December, the expert Christophe Goeury, along with the Millon and Baron Ribeyre Auction Houses, is organizing "The Week of Gérard Lévy's Photos", two auctions this month that will present another selection from the celebrated collection.

The first auction, Les Clins d'Œil de Gérard Lévy, will take place on Tuesday, June 13, and will represent a selection of over 500 lots in the spirit of the "Photographies Pour Tous" editions and biannual sales, that embrace the curious, the strange, and the original. It is with this auction that we discover all of the mischief and genius of Gérard Lévy's gaze.

This first auction is composed of an impressive selection of cartes-de-visite of various subjects and themes, from the most curious and bizarre, to celebrities, politicians, royal families, historical events, crimes and criminals, festivals and circuses, actors, French courtesans and dancers, as well as portraits of types from around the world. Over 50 travel albums with material from Africa, the Middle East, as well as Japan and Indonesia are included. Images of Paris, the construction of the Eiffel Tower, several World Fairs and Exhibitions, train wrecks, studies of nature in the Pictorialist style and much more are part of this sale. The first auction will culminate with a surprising collection of nudes and erotica. As in all "Photographies Pour Tous", a selection of daguerreotypes and stereoscopes, as well as books, will be available.

This first auction can be found online here: http://www.millon-associes.com/html/index.jsp?id=81330&lng=fr&npp=150.

The second auction, L'Excellence d'un Regard II, on Friday, June 16th will focus on more important photographs in the collection. As was the case in the previous auction late last year, this auction will once again present Lévy's collection in four parts.

The first is a selection of prints by esteemed primitive French photographers such as Henri Le Secq, Charles Marville, Mayer et Pierson (represented in an impressive ensemble concerning the Prince Imperial), Félix Moulin, Edouard Baldus, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Hippolyte Aubry, Adolphe Braun, Aimé Civiale and many more. In addition, several daguerreotypes will be sold, including a ¼-plate daguerreotype by Louis-Noël Richou representing a couple seated at a table with the man reading a letter, and a ½-plate daguerreotype by Eduard Vaillat of a young boy playing dominoes. Both are estimated at 3,000-4,000 €.

Nadar's portrait of his son Paul.
Nadar's portrait of his son Paul.

Among the many other distinguished works in this auction are three masterpieces by Nadar (Félix Tournachon, dit). The first is a photograph taken of his son Paul at a young age, leaning his head on his crossed hands and resting over a small piece of furniture. This exemplary salt print taken between 1858 and 1860 and roughly cut in an oval directs our gaze directly into that of the child's. Through his intense look, we come to understand a little bit more of the young boy's personality that is at once spirited and curious, and yet so childlike and innocent as he sits in a slumped position with pursed lips. The shape, the simple background and the rich colors accentuate the atmosphere of the print and each of these elements work together to describe the complexities of childhood. On the back of this print we find a caricature that Nadar made of his son Paul, and a handwritten note from 1923 by Paul Nadar to his daughter Marthe, telling her that this portrait of her father was "beloved by her grandparents and framed and hung on a wall of the Nadar family home". The work is estimated at 50,000-60,000 €.

Nadar's brilliance at translating the psychology of each of his subjects into two-dimensional prints was not limited to his family. Another portrait, that of Eugène Pelletan, juxtaposes the writer, journalist and politician's calm demeanor with his unwavering ambitions. Free thinking and bitterly opposed to the new regime of the Second Empire, the signed salt paper print taken in 1854 shows us a man courageously defending his ideals while determinedly facing the viewer. The print is estimated at 18,000-20,000 €.

The mime Charles Debureau
The mime Charles Debureau

Yet another exceptional work in this auction is a portrait of the mime Charles Debureau taken between 1854 and 1855. This large format salt paper print is the only print known to this day in this format and in this framing. Félix Nadar, who had just opened a photographic studio with his younger brother Adrien, asked the famous mime to perform various expressions and gestures for a series called "Tête d'expression". The series delighted crowds at the Parisian Exposition Universelle of 1855, which won the brothers a gold medal. Despite the altercation between Félix and Adrien afterwards, the series of various portraits of the mime in his Pierrot costume is well known and celebrated to this day. The known prints of this series show the mime's body expressions while standing, as if he was performing onstage. In this salt print, we see the mime seated and framed in ¾ view with an expression of surprise looking over his right shoulder while pointing with his right hand in the opposite direction. We recognize Nadar's "signature" minimalist backdrop that focuses all of our attention on the mime's face and hands. In this seated position, it was an even greater challenge for the mime to express this state of surprise. As Maria Morris Hambourg described in the catalog of the "Nadar" exhibition of 1994, in this unusual framing, this rare salt paper print transforms a study of expressions into a study of physiognomy. This work is estimated at 60,000-80,000 €.

This second auction of Gérard Lévy's collection will once again offer a number of lots devoted to travel photography. The first are several half plate daguerreotypes by an unidentified photographer of views of Algeria, estimated between 3,000 and 6,000 € each. Also, in the part of the sale are salt paper or albumen paper prints of North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Far East by Charles Lallemand & Ludovico Volfgang Hart, Félix Teynard, Maxime du Camp, Charles Clifford, Henry Sauvaire, Ernest Benecke, Pierre Tremaux, Aymard de Banville, Hector Horeau, J.X. or Ivan Raoult, Philipp Remelé and Auguste Salzmann. Four lots each of four salt paper prints of Egyptian monuments and landscapes by John Beasley Greene will be presented and estimated at 8,000-10 000 € per lot. An album by Felice Beato, titled "Views of Japan 1871", of 54 albumen prints most uncolored but some delicately painted of animated scenes and landscapes of his travels through Tokaido, Kamakura, Edo, Yokohama, Nagasaki is estimated at 8,000-10,000 €. The section on travel ends with two large prints of magnificent views of Yosemite by Carleton E. Watkins, estimated at 4,000-6 000 €, and a Charles Leander Weed, estimated at 8,000-10,000 €.

The next section focused on the nude begins with several stereoscopic daguerreotypes of female nudes. Along with the sensual daguerreotypes attributed to Félix Jacques Antoine Moulin or attributed to Louis Jules Duboscq-Soleil are several daguerreotypes by unidentified artists. A daguerreotype the auction house has called "Cleopatra" stands out for its technical finesse and the theatricality of the model. The daguerreotype is estimated 4,000-6,000 €. There are also several studies of nudes by Laure Albin Guillot, estimated 1,000-2,000 € each. In addition there are nudes by Gaudenzio Marconi, which are estimated 1,000-2,000 €; Louis Jean Baptiste Igout (three lots estimated from 400 to 2,000 €); Wilhelm von Gloeden, estimated 5,000-6,000 €; Vincenzo Galdi, two lots estimated 5,000-6,000 € each; and Guglielmo Plüschow, whose work is estimated at 3,000-4,000 €.

The last section explores Gérard Lévy's predilection for surreal or abstract photographs. Excellent examples include Paul Edmund Hahn's close up of a nose, estimated at 1,000-1,500 €; a photomontage by Günter Hirschel-Prötsch, estimated at 1,500-2,000 €; Jean Moral's hanging linens, estimated 800-1,000 €; and André Kertesz's "Conversations between Chairs", estimated at 1,000-1,500 €. There will be a few portraits by Man Ray that are estimated from 1,000 to 1,500 €, and several prints by Brassaï, estimated from 600 to 1,000 €.

This second auction can be found online here: http://www.millon-associes.com/html/index.jsp?id=81331&lng=fr&npp=150.

Private exhibition can be seen by appointment (see contacts below) at Millon Drouot Photography Department, 16 rue de la Grange Batelière, 75009 Paris, France.

Public exhibition: SVV 3 rue Rossini, 75009 Paris:

Les Clins d'Œil de Gérard Lévy
Saturday June 10th, 11am to 7pm
Monday June 12th, 11am to 7pm
Tuesday June 13th, 11am to 12pm

L'Excellence d'un Regard II
Wednesday June 14th, 11am to 7pm
Thursday June 15th, 11am to 7pm
Friday June 16th, 11am to 12pm
Auction: Friday, June 16th at 2:30pm CET at SVV 3 rue Rossini, 75009 Paris.

Christophe Gœury, expert: phone: + 33 (0)6 16 02 64 91.

The catalog is available upon request from the Photography Department at the Millon Auction House. For all inquiries, to receive the catalog, for information about leaving absentee bids, receiving condition reports, or to take an appointment, please contact:
Natalia Raciborski, Photography Department, Millon, phone: + 33 (0)7 88 09 91 86 or by email at: photographie@millon.com.