1840 The Friend of Niepce and Daguerre
2011 SOLD 70 K€ including premium
Vincent Chevalier was an optician. His role in the invention of photography was considerable, since he organized themeeting of the two French inventors, Niepce and Daguerre.
When the process of the daguerreotype became public in 1839, Chevalier made photographs of views of Paris in the so-named full plate format, 15 x 20 cm. His work is very rare, simply because this already old pioneer died as early as1841.
Tomorrow on November 11 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a daguerreotype showing the Seine river and the Louvre in 1840, with in the foreground the statue of Henri IV on the Pont Neuf. The image is sharp, for a reason related to both the quality of Chevalier lenses and the total lack of grain in that process of photography on metal.
The only living being is a character in a sleeping position on a bench. Obviously, the plates were not sensitive enough to allow the instantaneous.
The attribution of this photograph to Vincent Chevalier is ensured by the fact that it has retained its original back with the promotional label including the name and address of the optician.
This very old photo of Paris is estimated € 60K, lot 1.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was well targeted. The photo was sold € 70K including premium.
1840 Notre-Dame de Paris in Pleine Plaque
The Chevalier family specializes in optical instruments since 1760. The branches of the family are established independently at various addresses of the Quai de l'Horloge in Paris.
Vincent invents in 1823 with his son Charles the achromatic microscope whose lens will be used by Niepce. When the daguerreotype is made public in 1839 the Chevaliers are among the first to create images by this process.
Vincent Chevalier realizes his views of Paris in the largest format available at that time referred as pleine plaque, 20 x 14 cm. These photos combining the optical quality of the Chevalier lens and camera obscura with the absence of grain of the metal plate are among the masterpieces of this period of photography.
The photos made by Vincent are extremely rare for two reasons : each daguerreotype is a unique print and the old pioneer dies in 1841, aged 71. Charles who had a separate shop since 1831 transfers his father's business to Richebourg.
A photo of the facade of the Pantheon in 1839 by Vincent Chevalier was sold for £ 166K including premium by Sotheby's on October 27, 1999 in the auction of the Jammes collection. A view of the Seine river taken from the Pont-Neuf with the statue of Henri IV and the Louvre was sold for € 70K including premium by Sotheby's on November 11, 2011.
The photo for sale is a full front view of Notre-Dame made by Vincent Chevalier. This highly detailed image in a perfectly symmetrical composition is also a precious recording of the cathedral of Paris before its transformations by Viollet-le-Duc. Two other examples exist by the same artist. One of these photos has been classified Trésor National Français.
1843 An Austere President
2017 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
Adams understood the importance of the images and had many portraits made of him. In the 1840s printers used the daguerreotype revealed in France in 1839 to create the original images from which they produced their lithographs in series.
Adams' personal diary is detailed. On 8 and 16 March 1843 he visits the studio of Philip Haas in Washington DC. Each shot lasts half a minute during which the former president retains this austere attitude that suits his political commitment so well.
The three half-plate 5 x 4 inches photos made by Haas in the second session are very successful : the old man sits comfortably in an armchair in front of the painted mural of the workshop, his gaze is straight and the sharpness is excellent. Haas will produce a lithographic edition of one of these images.
The former president had priority against a Vermont representative who was visiting Haas on the same day. Perhaps for apologizing he presented to him one of his photos. Very recently resurfaced in the family of that first owner, it is authenticated as an original by a handwritten dedication note by Adams on the back.
This daguerreotype is estimated $ 150K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on October 5, lot 147. It has been rarely handled and is in very good condition.
This piece is the oldest surviving original photograph of an American president. The original of WH Harrison's magnificent portrait made during his very short presidency in 1841 is lost and was probably scrapped long time ago after making copies.
1844-1845 A BOX OF EARLY ROMAN VIEWS
2011 SOLD 51 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Very early, the first photographers traveled the world to record the images of the monuments with their wonderful instruments.
They were also looking after the ways to market their work. In 1840, Lerebours began publishing aquatints fromdaguerreotypes showing the "sights and the most remarkable monuments of the world."
The ateliers were organizing for the sale of their photographic images. The techniques were improving rapidly, especially the reduction of the exposure time for the shooting and of the processing time, but the daguerreotype, single image on metal, was unsuitable for a mass release.
Many photos made by these pioneers have disappeared or are oxidized. So, we must welcome the rarity of a set of photographs for sale in Chartres on October 23 by the Galerie de Chartres, introduced by an advertisement in La Gazette Drouot this week.
The flat mahogany box 12 x 16 cm contains nine daguerreotypes and carries the identification of the photographer, Richebourg, known to have been a direct follower of Daguerre or of Vincent Chevalier.
8 of these pictures of half-plate format are views of the monuments of Rome. Some are optically rectified, some other are not. The passage of the light through the lens of the camera created an inverted image, not really embarrassing for the portrait but not well suited to monument photography.
In 1844 and 1845, photographers began to frequently use mirrors to get the real version of the landscape. The set for sale dates from that period.
POST SALE COMMENT
Each photo was sold separately. The total for the eight views of Rome is € 149K. The highest price, €43K, was obtained on a rectified view of the forum.
These prices do not include fees.
1843-1853 The Dried Algae of Anna Atkins
2016 SOLD for € 220K including premium
Children was a prominent member of the British learned societies. Anna became a member in 1839 of the Botanical Society of London created three years earlier. Father and daughter are close to John Herschel and familiar with the work of William Henry Fox Talbot.
At that time the chemists were working hard to define new photographic processes. Herschel invented the cyanotype in 1842. Anna decides to use this new technique to publish her collection of algae. This activity makes her busy from 1843 to 1853. She then continues with ferns.
The dried seaweed was flattened like for a herbarium. Anna does not need a lens to execute her photographs : simply she places the sample directly on the sensitized surface which she exposes to sunlight. Thomas Wedgwood had a similar idea in 1802 but his images disappeared as soon as they were created : the fixing issue was only resolved in the 1820s, by Niepce. Talbot followed with ferns in the early 1840s.
Cyanotype pictures are cyan blue. A label within each image provides the title naming the 389 samples. The photo retains the exact size of the original preparation, on a sheet 26 x 21 cm. The operation is repeated until reaching the required number of copies.
An album with 382 cyanotypes of algae by Anna Atkins, bound in two volumes, was sold for £ 230K including premium by Christie's on 19 May 2004. An album with 102 cyanotypes is estimated € 120K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on November 11, lot 15 .
1851 Le Gray at the time of Viollet-le-Duc and Mérimée
2010 SOLD 90 K€ including premium
1851 is a key date in the history of photography. The age of the travelers follows that of the scientists. Photography will very quickly spread the actual image of every country in the world.
In March, Frederick Scott Archer publishes in The Chemist the method of wet collodion glass negatives, which enables the production in series of high quality positives. He had worked to it since 1848.
Near Lille, Blanquart-Evrard creates his Imprimerie Photographique and starts editing albums. He develops the technique of salted paper that will produce the best positives of the early paper photography.
Gustave Le Gray is one of those pioneers. Artist and chemist, he invents, also in 1851, the dry wax paper negative.
Fortunately, these advances occur at precisely the time when officials led by Viollet-le-Duc appreciate that the beauty of the monuments must be accompanied by a preservation effort.
Thus, again in 1851, the Commission des Monuments Historiques headed by Merimée organizes a photographic survey of the monuments of France, divided into five zones assigned to five pioneers of photography. Much later, the name of Mission Héliographique is given to this original travel.
The photo of the Pont du Gard by Le Gray, 22 x 33 cm, was made during this trip. A salted paper positive, mounted on its original 47 x 60 cm card and signed, is estimated € 100K, for sale on November 19 at Sotheby's in Paris. It is shown in the press release shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is without passion: € 90K including premium.
1851 Heliographic Resting
Five photographers are chosen among the members of the Société Héliographique, created in January 1851. The monuments to be photographed are assigned to them with a distribution in five regions. Le Gray and Mestral regroup their missions and work together.
This great project arouses the enthusiasm of the Société Héliographique, very happy with this encouragement for large formats including a confrontation of the negative processes, for which Le Gray, Mestral and Le Secq use wax paper, Baldus gelatin paper and Bayard albumen glass. Le Gray is able to take 30 high quality photos within a single day.
The Commission had a goal of inventorying and preserving monuments and was not sensitive to the artistic quality, creating an intense frustration at the Société Héliographique. In 1965 André Jammes finds the negatives in the drawers of the government. The project is then identified as the Mission Héliographique.
On their journey, the photographers also work for their private use. The self-portrait by Le Gray in the Gothic cloister of Arles-sur-Tech in the Pyrénées Orientales department is one of the very rare examples featuring a character. It was certainly taken with Mestral's assistance.
Le Gray's technique is the most advanced but does not yet allow snapshots. The man is in a position of rest between two pillars under the very high arch. Strangely the top of the face is in the shadow of the hat.
An unmounted 34 x 25 cm salt paper positive print was sold for € 500K including premium by Pierre Bergé et Associés on March 19, 2015, lot 101. It was at that time the only known print of this view. Another positive of the same technique and dimension has surfaced. The photo with a missing bottom edge is mounted on 45 x 31 cm thick vellum. It is estimated € 140K for sale on October 16 in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, by Eric Caudron, lot 14 linked here on drouot.com.
Une première épreuve de ce rarissime portrait de Gustave Le Gray, réalisé en 1851 par son élève Auguste Mestral, s'est vendue 500 500 € en 2015 à Drouot. Celle-ci, la deuxième connue, promet donc de faire monter les enchères.— Drouot (@Drouot) October 14, 2020
Vente Caudron, 16 octobre. pic.twitter.com/ND7M9HVPJQ
1852 LE GRAY IN THE SALON
Among the five photographers who made in 1851 a photographic survey of the monuments of France, Gustave Le Gray is both the most innovative and the most politically engaged. He receives many orders from the new emperorNapoléon III and his entourage.
Parisians love art, and the Salon helps promoting younger artists. On May 15 in Paris, Sotheby's sells an album devoted by Le Gray to the Salon of 1852.
Technically and culturally, this lot is outstanding. The negative processes have become sufficiently sensitive to accommodate the light filtering through the glass ceilings, and the salt paper is the most effective positive method ofthe time with a beauty of contrasts that is hard to overcome.
This set is more important to the history of museography than for the history of art. The whole surface of the walls is covered by paintings juxtaposed from floor to ceiling, according to the traditional method of exhibition in the earlerSalons and in the museums of the time. The reality of photography supersedes the interpretation by drawing and printmaking.
The album contains eight photos of the Salon of 1852, to which the artist has added a photo of the Salon of the previous year. It is assembled in a binding with the monogram of a personality of the Imperial family, probablyMathilde Bonaparte.
The photographer and his art are prestigious, but the theme may seem austere to the fans of images. Although this report is a real masterpiece of early paper photography, its estimate, € 240K, is ambitious. Here is the link to the catalog.
2023 SOLD for € 346K by Villanfray Pommery
The multiple positive prints prepared from a negative paper made possible the frequent exhibitions by the club. The members use to trade photos and to assemble them in albums.
An album 31 x 44 cm assembled by a member gathering 95 photos 10 x 15 to 38 x 30 cm datable from 1854 to 1860 was sold for € 346K from a lower estimate of € 12K by Villanfray Pommery on September 28, 2023, lot 135.
Its major contributor, with 33 prints, is the comte Olympe Aguado, the wealthy son of a late Spanish banker. That skilled amateur operated a studio at Place Vendôme. He pioneered the new photographic processes including the small size carte de visite that added portraits to the visiting cards.
Aguado's photos were highly eclectic, including portraits of the imperial family. The photos in the album include some of his masterpieces including a view of Colonne Vendôme printed on waxed paper and a group of views featuring the empress Eugénie at Compiègne.
1857 MILITARY PHOTOJOURNALISM IN THE CAMP DE CHALONS
In 2010, an album of the Camp de Châlons by Le Gray had remained unsold in a French provincial auction. It is listed again with a more reasonable estimate by another auction house, this time in Drouot.
I copy my previous text, modified according to the informations of the next sale:
Napoléon III had said "l'Empire, c'est la paix" (Empire means peace). He made war in Crimea, Italy, Mexico, and his reign ended in the disastrous Franco-Prussian War. But he also took care to strengthen the military organization of France. The camp (field) in St-Maur, the Camp de Châlons and the Cherbourg harbour are the best examples.
The photographers are there. Military affairs are not subject to secret, indeed such news were used to display the strength of the army. In 1857, at the opening of the Camp de Châlons, Gustave Le Gray was invited by officials, or more probably by the Emperor himself, to illustrate the maneuvers.
Albums are prepared for the officers. It is useful to remind here that an album is not a book. It is assembled upon request, differently for each client, just like the composite atlas of the past.
The copy of Colonel d'Eggs, sold 700 K € including premium by Artcurial in Paris on November 17, 2007, contained 64 albumen prints mounted on 54 x 65 cm cardboards.
For sale on May 23 by Yann Le Mouel in Paris, the copy of General Camou will not reach that price. It contains only 34 prints of various sizes, including six portraits of officers. The photos have a nice contrast that keeps in mind that Le Gray, chemist and experimentalist, was the best photographer of his time. The album itself is of the same format as that of Artcurial.
This lot is estimated 90 K €. We are far away from the time when General Camou, probably hardly interested by this novelty, gave the album to his aide.
1857-1861 Nadar versus Tournachon
2012 SOLD 58 K€ including premium
The marines by Le Gray and the attitudes of Pierrot by Nadar brought an incomparable prestige to early French photographic art. The mute expression of emotions by Pierrot, personified by the most famous mime of that time, Charles Deburau, was conducive to highly psychological pictures.
The photos of Pierrot-Deburau are extremely rare at auction. A very nice salt print 29 x 21 cm showing the character moved by a basket of fruit was sold for $ 540K including premium by Phillips de Pury on October 4, 2011. This copy stamped Nadar Jne (Nadar the younger) inscribed by Deburau to one of his collaborators was probably contemporary with the negative made in 1854 or 1855.
Shortly after the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where the Pierrot photos were exhibited, Nadar had forbidden his brother to use the name Nadar Jne. Resuming his personal name, Adrien Tournachon continued to commercially exploit the series of Pierrot, which tends to confirm that he was the sole author of them.
In his immense Pierrot costume, Deburau is in one of his most traditional attitudes on the photo 28 x 21 cm for sale on June 22 by Rouillac in Vendôme: he listens. This print is blindstamped Adr. Tournachon Jne with the address where his studio was located between 1857 and 1861. The reasonable estimate, € 10K, is due to the fact that the photo was made on albumen paper and not on salt paper.
POST SALE COMMENT
Once again, the estimate can be forgotten. The result, € 48K before fees, is a very good price for a photo on albumen paper.
1862 The Earliest Photographs of Maya Archaeological Sites
2009 SOLD 60 K$ including premium
There was still so much to discover on this planet in the middle of the nineteenth century! Explorers and scientists visited the farthest corners. To share their knowledge, they now have at their disposal a wonderful tool: photography.
From 1857 to 1861, Désiré Charnay is managing an expedition to the Yucatan as a mission for the French government. He is passionate about the remains of cities and palaces of the Mayas, and wants to publicize the outstanding monuments of Mitla, Palenque, Izamal, Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
His photographs, in addition to their top documentary interest, are technical feats. Photography was born in Europe, a continent with a temperate climate. Already, the first photographers in Egypt had problems with the too dry climate. In eastern Mexico, it is even worse. Moist heat is not conducive to the fragile collodion preparations. But the passion for his subject makes Charnay achieve perfection.
Like many photographers-scientists of his time, he practices large size format. Back in France, he publishes in 1862 an album of 47 albumen prints of sizes ranging between 27x33 and 34x42 cm, showing these monuments surrounded by lush vegetation.
A copy will be auctioned at Swann in New York on February 19. What we can see in the video on the website of the auction house is in very good condition. This treasure has no estimate price ... unless requested by customers to the auction house. The bids will start at $ 45 K. I expect a result with six digits.
Charnay won for his writings the patronage of Viollet-le-Duc, a pioneer (I can even say the inventor) of historic preservation. This is the best reference you can imagine.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, K $ 60 fees included, is much lower than I had imagined.
There may be several reasons for this. The album of Charnay, in good condition, may be less rare than I thought. Or the subject is too unusual, fans prefer the Mediterranean tour or the Rocky Mountains.
I continue to believe that this lot was exceptional.
1866 THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR
Four talented photographers were the forerunners of photojournalism during the American Civil War: Matthew Brady,Alexander Gardner, George N. Barnard and Timothy O'Sullivan. At first, the four worked together, then their roads diverged.
In 1866, Barnard publishes 61 albumen prints sized around 25 x 33 cm, in an oblong folio entitled PhotographicViews of Sherman's Campaign.
The realism of the views depicting the terrible truth of this fratricidal war and the quality of the prints made this edition recognized as a masterpiece as soon as it was released. The subjects include ruins of cities, groups of officers,life in encampments, battlefields.
A copy with an original but worn binding created a surprise when it was sold for $ 108K including premium by Swann on October 19, 2006 from a lower estimate of $ 20K. This result rewarded the rarity of this set, because most of such books have been dismantled.
Another copy is estimated $ 150K, for sale by Heritage on October 4 in Beverly Hills.
1869 An Album of Portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron
2013 SOLD 240 K£ including premium
She does not care about the technique, but her large size compositions display an extraordinary empathy with her sitters. The chiaroscuro lighting of the head in front of a black or neutral background reveals the psychology accentuated and not diminished by this novelty that will much later turn into a fashion : the artistic blur.
Her original path in the history of photography is recognized forty years later by Stieglitz. This passionate and undoubtedly friendly woman finds posthumously her right place among the most important precursors of photographic art.
She assembled a few albums for her friends with her own photos. Unknown to this day, one of them was dedicated in 1869 to her godson. It consists of 32 portraits, including Herschel and Tennyson but also two previously unrecorded pictures of her maid Mary. One of them is illustrated in the post shared by Paul Fraser .
No similar lot was offered at auction for more than thirty years. This album both intimate and worldly is estimated £ 250K, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 10.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold for £ 240K including premium, this remarkable album did not reach its estimate.
1869 CROS AND THE TRICHROME PROCESS
In March 2002 in Paris, Sotheby's astonished all historians of photography by selling in Paris the oldest known photographic picture, made by Niepce, reproducing a drawing. There was no doubt on Its authenticity because it was included in a letter that the inventor had sent to one of his cousins, where he described the experience. The collector André Jammes had endeavoured to contact the descendants of Niepce and his family, and so discovered it. It was sold 490 K € fees included.
The fourth and last part of the Jammes collection will be sold in Paris by Sotheby's on November 15. Lot 164 is also very interesting because it concerns one of the earliest successful tests of color photography.
The color has always interested the photographic enthusiasts, and from the very beginning many prints were enhanced with watercolors. Working independently, two French inventors, Charles Cros and Louis Ducos du Hauron, had undertaken research to get a real process for photographing in colors. In 1868 and 1869, both published a scientific memory, then they met. Their ideas, very similar, were based on the presence of three matrices of bichromate gelatin tinted in the three basic colors, and exposed successively through three filters of the same colors.
This complicated technique remained in the laboratory, but subsequent developments based on this principle resulted forty years later in the first industrial process for instant photography in color, the Autochrome Lumière.
This lot of the Jammes collection is the photograph of a still life made by Charles Cros in 1869, 30 x 24 cm, from which another print is also known. It is one of the first witnesses of the achievement of the work of Cros. The press release of September 5 announced it at 150 K €, but the catalog is more reasonable: 120 K €.
POST SALE COMMENT
The trichrome of Cros has not been sold. I went to see after the sale the condition report: this photograph was not in very good condition. A discussion with an expert confirmed that Cros was best known as a theoretician. It is possible that an exceptional trichrome by Ducos du Hauron should be easier to sell in that targeted price range.
1873 ARTISTS IN THE ARCTIC
William Bradford was an American painter specializing in subjects of seascapes and ships. This landscapist is a contemporary of Bierstadt, the artist of Far West fame.
The public was fascinated by the remote places of the planet, and Bradford organized an artistic expedition on the coast of the Arctic. His goal was to make sketches, but photography had become an essential complement to suchenterprises and he took with him two photographers from Boston named John Dunmore and George Critcherson.
The success of his paintings presented in London in 1871 and 1872 encouraged Bradford. The quality of the photos of the expedition decided him in 1873 to prepare a book entitled The Arctic Regions, Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland.
Printed in London, this lavish book is a monument. With its huge size, 62 x 50 cm, it incorporates 141 albumen prints, 25 of them being mounted on thick card, including a frozen seascape in full double page.
300 copies were planned, but the actual published quantity was probably much less.
On February 28, 2012, one of them was sold for $ 180K including premium by Swann.
Another copy is estimated $ 140K, for sale on September 13 by PBA Galleries in San Francisco, lot 22.
1875 SIX BROTHERS IN THE WILD WEST
There is no law west of the Pecos River. Or so little. Sheriffs and their allies engage in the same rough life as thecowboys.
Not to forget the itinerant photographers. An oval photograph, 20 x 14 cm, made by an anonymous author in Dodge City, Kansas, in 1875, shows an old man and six younger fellows.
If they had not been identified, it would be worthless. It is estimated $ 200K, certainly ambitiously, for sale byHolabird-Kagin in Reno on August 17. It is illustrated on the article shared by FineBooks. Here is also the link to the online catalog activated on Liveauctions.
They are Nick Earp, a veteran of the gold rush, and his six sons. This family sided with the law.
Three of them entered the legend of the Wild West on October 26, 1881. A brawl had erupted on the previous day in Tombstone, Arizona, after drink. The cowboys' gang came back with the intention to destroy the lawmen, including three of the Earp brothers. The meeting was extremely violent.
Tombstone had a predestined name that sounded good. The killing, however, became famous by taking the name of a nearby stable: it was the gunfight at OK Corral.
1878 Carleton Watkins explores the Sierra Nevada
2009 SOLD 195 K$ including premium
In the nineteenth century, American photographers rush on Niagara Falls in the East, and on the Yosemite in the West.
Two photographers operating in San Francisco are known for their extremely careful prints. They will have very different fates. Eadweard Muybridge became illustrious for his photographic analysis of motion. He is considered a major precursor of the cinema. Carleton Watkins, a little talent for business, will be bankrupt.
Both toured the West in all directions. The very prolific Watkins photographed also the Sierra Nevada. His series of magnificent landscapes of Round Top Mountain made in 1878 comes on tomorrow, February 15 at Bonhams and Butterfields in San Francisco. This copy comes from the personal collection of the explorer whom Watkins accompanied for the occasion. These albumen prints, 15 1 / 2 x 21 1 / 4 inches, mounted on white cardboard, have handwritten titles.
According to good practice in photo auctions, the full series is proposed first, with an estimate of $ 80K. If the reserve price is not reached, the 24 lots will be presented individually with an estimated $ 2K each.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was heartbreaking, in cultural terms, for this set to be splitted. The estimated price was low, so there was little risk for it to fail.
The whole exactly doubled its low estimate, at $ 160 K before fees. This is a very good result.
1888 Lahore at the Time of Kipling
2018 sold for £ 125k including premium
John Lockwood Kipling's competences as an educator and illustrator gave him a great career. He worked from 1875 to 1893 in Lahore where he was principal of the Mayo College of Arts and curator of the local museum. After returning to England for his retirement, he created illustrations for the Jungle Book and other works by his son.
On October 23 in London, Bonhams sells an album assembled and signed by J. L. Kipling in Lahore in 1888, containing a collection of 120 photographs on the theme of monuments of India from Lahore, Amritsar and other sites. It is estimated £ 100K, lot 212.
Kipling chose albumen prints of various sizes that had been made by anonymous photographers. He also included six Delhi views edited in woodburytype by Samuel Bourne.
The thread line of this set is the didactic interest and the promotion of local architecture. He inserts in his album six photos taken in the New York residence of Lockwood de Forest, abundantly decorated with Indian sculptures. Close to Tiffany, de Forest was trying to introduce Indian styles into American arts and crafts.
Coming up in our Islamic and Indian Art sale in London is the Lockwood Kipling Album: An album of 120 photographs of Amritsar, Lahore and other sites in India compiled by John Lockwood Kipling. Follow the link for more information https://t.co/LY95mhaChK pic.twitter.com/47f0oNphlk— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) October 15, 2018