The most significant collection of photographs in private hands today is to go on sale at Sotheby’s New York on December 11 and 12 2014.
The sale, 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years Of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation, spans works from photography’s earliest years in the 1840s to contemporary 21st Century colour images and includes major photographs from all of the medium’s most important practitioners including: Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Gustave Le Gray, Irving Penn, August Sander, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston, among others.
The collection was meticulously put together over decades by Howard Stein (1926-2011), one of photography’s greatest collectors, whose vision and keen understanding of the medium informed his purchases. Mr. Stein donated the collection to the Joy of Giving Something Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the photographic arts, which is the sole beneficiary of the sale. Highlights will be shown in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris prior to the full exhibition in New York.
The pre-sale estimate of $13/20 million is the highest ever for a Photographs auction.
Denise Bethel, chairman, Sotheby’s Photographs, Americas commented: “A world without photographs is now unimaginable. In the 175 years since photography first appeared, we have witnessed the remarkable achievement of this medium.
“Initially a recording device, photography quickly became, even in its early years, artistic, expressive, and profound. Its broad appeal to the public has now been matched—in museums, in academia, and in innumerable books—with the critical acclaim its influence deserves. We are honored that we have been entrusted by the Joy of Giving Something Foundation to present at auction 175 masterworks from its collection, in a sale that is destined to become among Sotheby’s most memorable.”
Christopher Mahoney, head of Sotheby’s Photographs Department said: “We have never before encountered a collection in which the quality of the images, in terms of vision and craft, is so high.
“From photographs by some of the earliest practitioners of the 19th century, such as
William Henry Fox Talbot and John Plumbe, Jr.; to Pictorialist masterworks by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Frederick Evans; to the great Modernist explorations of László Moholy-Nagy and Charles Sheeler; to the gritty post-war realism of Robert Frank and William Klein; and to contemporary images by Cindy Sherman and Adam Fuss, each photograph in the collection demonstrates – in its own way and for its own time period – an important achievement in the history of the medium.”