After the success of the final part of the Marie-Thérèse & André Jammes Collection in November 2008, Sotheby’s will be staging an auction of photographs from various owners in Paris for the first time on 20 November. The sale includes an impressive selection of 134 high-quality international photographs spanning the history of photography from its 19th century origins to 20th century classics and contemporary prints. It will be followed by the sale of the Michèle & Michel Auer Collection from Geneva.
The sale begins with a remarkable ensemble by Eugène Atget (1857–1927). Although Atget is now considered one of the most influential photographers of the early 20th century, little is known about his life – other than that he grew up in Bordeaux and worked as a sailor and actor before taking up photography for reasons that remain obscure. His views of monuments, interiors, and the streets and environs of Paris were only discovered by Man Ray’s assistant, Berenice Abbott, in the 1920s before achieving prominence thanks to Man Ray, Julien Levy, the Surrealists – and Berenice Abbott’s efforts as curator of the Atget archives. In 1968 the New York MoMA acquired a large body of Atget prints and negatives, and today his photographs are in collections of major museums around the world.
The 14 photographs by Eugène Atget offered for auction in Paris are among the most remarkable he ever took, showcasing his documentary approach to early 20th century Paris and its suburbs. Subjects range from street-scenes and cafés to tailors’ dummies, prostitutes and fairground bystanders. Versailles – Maison Close (1921), showing a woman outside a brothel, is one of the photographs Man Ray bought from Eugène Atget around 1926 (estimate: €50,000-70,000); Cour à Asnières (1912/13), from Atget’s Paris Pittoresque II series and reproduced on the cover of the catalogue, depicts a grimy suburban courtyard (est. €30,000-40,000); Kiosque à Journaux – Place St-Sulpice (c.1910), with its news-stand and Morris column, is thought to be another print from the same series (est. €25,000-35,000).
The sale also features a previously unknown subject from Eugène Atget’s oeuvre: Sans Titre (Homme) is his only study of a male nude known to have survived (est. €60,000-80,000). The man’s eyes, nose and mouth were scratched out on the negative, doubtlessly in order to hide his identity. The print is thought to be part of Atget’s Paris Pittoresque III series, and dates from 1921 or 1925.
Other photographs from the 1920s include compositions by Karl Blossfeldt and Albert Renger-Patzsch, two of the greatest European photographers of the period. Karl Blossfeldt’s Chrysanthemum Carinatum (1915-25) is one of just two known vintage silver prints by the photographer – the second belonging to the Karl Blossfeldt Estate in Munich (est. €60,000-80,000).
Albert Renger-Patzsch, a leader of Germany’s New Objectivity movement, is represented by two vintage silver prints from 1929: Eifellandschaft, with the vertical trunk of a foreground tree contrasting with the horizontal lines of the landscape behind it (est. €25,000-35,000); and Auf Dem Ozeandampfer Resolute, which exploits the linear interplay of cables and metal on the deck of an ocean-liner (est. €25,000-35,000).
Coinciding with the exhibition devoted to August Sander at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, Sotheby’s are offering Sander’s portrait of the artist-couple Marta Hegemann & Anton Räderscheidt (c.1925).
August Sander photographed Marta Hegemann both by herself and with her husband Räderscheidt; the couple belonged to a group of avant-garde painters in 1920s Cologne. The vintage silver print offered here – originally owned by Claire Hegemann, Marta’s sister – is thought to be the only surviving portrait of the couple together (est. €18,000-22,000).
Photographs from the 1930s include Brassaï’s 1931/32 portrait of Professor Louis Dimier, a member of the Institut de France, bending over a bouquiniste’s stall beside the Seine (est. €12,000-15,000); and André Kertész’s L’Aveugle de Montparnasse (c.1930), showing a blind invalid walking with the aid of a large stick (est. €30,000-40,000). The image was reproduced in issue 11 of Paris Magazine in July 1932.
Sotheby’s are also offering a masterful image by the great photographer Irving Penn, who died earlier this year: Mouth – New York, produced for L’Oréal in 1986, here in a dye-transfer print made in 1992 (est. €80,000-100,000). Pick of five photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe are two silver prints from 1987, each numbered 2/10: Calla Lily (est. €40,000-50,000) and Shoe (est. €10,000-15,000).
The sale also includes Helmut Newton’s celebrated group of monumental nudes, Sie Kommen (1981), formed by two silver prints dating from before 1986 and accompanied by a postcard bearing Newton’s handwritten authentication. The work was acquired directly from Newton by a private German collector (est. €60,000-80,000).
Contemporary photographs include two superb 1994 silver prints by Hiroshi Sugimoto: Certic Sea – Boscastle (16/25), and Tyrrhenian Sea – Capri (14/25). Both will enchant connoisseurs of Sugimoto’s minimalist seascapes (est. €25,000-35,000 apiece). In contrast, David Lachapelle’s diasec-mounted chromogenic print Angelina Jolie: Poppy Field (2001), numbered AP 3/3, exudes a more zestful appeal (est. €25,000-35,000).
Wednesday 18 November 10am – 6pm
Thursday 19 November 10am – 6pm