Issue #4  8/15/1999
Jammes Collection Goes On Block Oct. 27 In London

By Alex Novak

Also as we reported last newsletter, the highly important Jammes collection is scheduled to go up for auction at Sotheby's London on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1999.  The collection is estimated by Sotheby's to bring a total of between £2 and £3 million, which will break the record for a single collection sale and the record for a photographic auction in London, and may even be in hailing distance of the all time record for a photographic auction sale just set by Christie's NY in April.  And the handful of estimates that I've actually seen seems generally modest by today's currently hot market standard.

As the press release notes in very uncharacteristic (for London) ebullient language: "The sale of this rich collection...will be one of the most important events of its kind to take place in the history of photography in living memory." 

Pretty strong hype, but the sale may live up, at least more modestly, to its billings.  Andre Jammes and his wife Marie-Therese were able to accumulate many unique or very rare images during the mid-1950s and for many years afterwards.  That the collection was spectacular is unquestioned.  The only question was how much was left after the Getty got their "Jammes collection" from Jammes and the French institutions got their "pound of flesh" for allowing Jammes to take the collection out of France (apparently the Orsay and Bibliotheque are to share a major collection of Victor Hugo photographs dating from his exile in Jersey and the Orsay got all the mime photographs by Tournachon, among other gems), where it was originally scheduled to be auctioned by Sotheby's.  French auction houses in Paris have so far prevented the two houses from launching full-scale competitive operations, and so the Jammes sale was reslated for London.

The collection will be sold in two sessions.  The first session will cover 19th century French photography.  This is clearly the strength of the collection. 

There is a direct positive impression of plants made in 1839 and three fine self-portraits, two produced in the 1840s, the other circa 1855 by Hippolyte Bayard.  The latter image has an estimate of £25,000 to £35,000 (The pound sterling is currently at about $1.61 on the official exchange rate; banks tend to charge a poorer rate of exchange in reality.  You will also have to add in the 15% premium and shipping.  I always just double the estimates to get dollars.).

For the dag collector with a lot of money left over from the Southworth and Hawes sale in April, there are full-plate dags of the Pantheon in Paris by Vincent Chevalier that date from Oct. 1839 (yes, that's right: one month after Daguerre published his process and by one of the opticians who made Daguerre's cameras), the Acropolis in 1850 by Baron Gros (estimate £20,000-£30,000) and the Port of St. Denis also from about 1850.

Also in this section of the sale are:

--An album by Edouard Baldus of the construction of the Chemin de fer du Nord, the railroad line from Paris to Boulogne.  The group of 50 large format images, which was made in 1856, is estimated at £100,000-£150,000, a price range that does appear to be somewhat ambitious but not out of the realm of possibilities.

--Charles Marville's record of the newly landscaped Bois de Boulogne, another copy of the very rare album that just was sold piecemeal in Paris in June. (I have about seven important images currently for sale from this series.)

--A selection of Gustave Le Gray's work, including an entire Camp de Chalons album, and prints of the Beech Tree, Fontainebleau, c.1855 (estimate £40,000-£60,000) and the Great Wave at Sete, c.1855.

--Portraits by Nadar, including images of Gustave Dore, Eugene Pellatan and Theophile Gautier.

--A copy of Ruines Americaines c.1856 by Desire Charnay.

--A heliogravure of the Cardinal d'Amboise c.1862 from the plate of 1824 by Nicephore Niepce, a landmark image for the printing industry as well as for photography.

--Experimental images by Jules Etienne Marey on human and animal motion.

--Photographs by the rare master Henri Le Sec.

The second session of the sale goes beyond the traditional area that the Jammes are known for and includes 19th century work by British and other photographers, turn of the century work, and masterpieces of avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s.

Among the 19th century work is:

--A copy of the scarce Sun Pictures in Scotland by William H. F. Talbot.

--A Julia Margaret Cameron of Julia Duckworth called 'La Santa Julia' c.1867 (estimate £12,000-£18,000), which is just part of a larger group of Cameron's from the personal collection of Gustave Dore, each of which bears her personal dedication to him.

--A reportedly high quality group of Hill & Adamson's, including individual and group portraits.

--An album of 11 Charles Szathmari salt prints c.1855, including a lovely copy of Odalisques (estimate £40,000-£60,000, but should go higher).

The important turn-of-the-century work includes:

--Edward Steichen's large format impressionist nude study of 1904, In Memoriam, an important example of complex hand printing (estimate £40,000-60,000).  It could threaten to break out of the top of the range.

--An album of ten nude studies by Clarence White and Alfred Stieglitz, including their collaborative master work Torso, 1909 (estimate, and probably very low, £100,000-£150,000).

And finally the 1920-30s material features:

--A major group of images by Man Ray, including an important compendium of his best rayographs called Les champs delicieux of 1922, which bears a dedication to Robert Desnos.  Another rayograph in the sale is one of a mannequin and comb that has its provenance coming from the surrealist poet Paul Eluard.

--A group of prints by August Saunder, including his very well published image, the Brick Carrier, 1927 (estimated £20,000-£30,000).

--An archive c.1920 of 24 photographs by the sculpture Constantin Brancusi, which show his works in progress and views of his studio, which feature both two as well as three-dimensional works of art (estimate £60,000-£100,000).

--A lovely miniature format study of steps in Montmarte by Andre Kertesz.

--An image by Pierre Dubreuil of a Cat Climbing out of a Plate Camera c.1930 (estimate a low £4,000-£6,000).

--A strong image by Eli Lotar 'Graissage d'une locomotive' c.1930 (estimate £3,000-£5,000, but expect it to break the auction record for Lotar's work).

Novak has over 45 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and formally board member of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Photographic Historical Society (APHS). He organized the 2016 19th-century Photography Show and Conference for the Daguerreian Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council. He is author of French 19th-Century Master Photographers: Life into Art.

Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.