Issue #67  2/6/2004
Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg to Sell: "A Century of Fine Photographs 1840s-1940s"

(Note: because of my involvement in this sale, I have left most of the article relatively unedited as it came to me from Phillips. A more in-depth preview article is planned next issue and will be written by Stephen Perloff of the Photograph Collector newsletter. Just to reassure all my various friends and clients: I have no plans currently to stop working. For personal reasons, I just wish to simplify my life a bit, while providing more resources for the I Photo Central website.)

Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg has announced the upcoming sale of a collection of fine photographs that demonstrate key achievements in the medium through its first century. Entitled "A Century of Fine Photographs: 1840s-1940s", this exceptional selection of historic material is consigned for sale by Alex Novak from his personal collection and from the inventory of his trading company Vintage Works.

The material selected for this auction focuses principally on the earliest decades of photographic activity and on the flowering of avant-garde ideas within the photography of the first 40 years of the 20th century.

The 19th-century images include fine examples of pioneering British and French photography, with work by such masters as William Henry Fox Talbot ,David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson ,Julia Margaret Cameron, Hippolyte Fizeau, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Bisson Frères and Edouard Baldus, as well as historic early American works on salt paper and in daguerreotypes. An important aspect of the sale is the work of the first generation of explorer-photographers, particularly the British and French adventurers who traveled with their cumbersome equipment to bring back magical images of the relics of past civilizations around the southern shores of the Mediterranean or from as far afield as India. Foremost among these were Dr. John Murray, Francis Frith, Charles Clifford, Louis de Clercq, Auguste Salzmann and Félix Teynard.

The 20th-century material includes American work by such luminaries as Edward Steichen and Edward Weston, and is particularly strong in its representation of experimental European practice. The collection includes stimulating examples of the varied exploration of photography's artistic potential, with a strong bias towards Surrealism and expressive abstract or near-abstract imagery. Works by numerous innovative photographers, including Raoul Ubac, Brassaï, Heinz Hajek-Halke, Pierre Jahan and Franz Roh, provide a strong insight into the exciting years in which the avant-garde might be said to have reinvented the medium.

While a number of the most celebrated and highly regarded names in the history of photography are represented in the auction, an exciting aspect of the selection offered for sale is the inclusion of exceptional images and fine prints by less celebrated but equally gifted photographers. The consistent thread is the historic and aesthetic interest of the images and the high quality of the prints.

The work will be sold at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg's New York City, Chelsea headquarters on April 22nd and 23rd at 450 West 15th St, New York, NY. Previews will be held in London, 3/29-3/30 Monday-Tuesday; Paris 4/1-4/2 Thursday-Friday; Berlin 4/4-4/5 Sunday-Monday; with the NYC Preview on 4/16-21 Friday-Wednesday 10 am-5 pm.

Special private by-appointment previews can be arranged during AIPAD week and the week after. For details on the auction material contact either Philippe Garner in London, phone: + 44-207-318-4021 or email: philippe.garner@phillips-dpl.com or Joshua Holdeman in New York, phone: 1-212-940-1244 or email: joshua.holdeman@phillips-dpl.com . To order a catalogue, call 1-800-825-2781 or 1-212-940-1200.