Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965); Ranchos de Taos church, New Mexico;
Lot 30
Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965); Ranchos de Taos church, New Mexico;
Sold for US$ 5,250 inc. premium
Auction Details
Photographs New York
8 May 2012 13:00 EDT

Auction 19470
Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965); Ranchos de Taos;
Lot Details
Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)
Ranchos de Taos church, New Mexico, 1931
Gelatin silver print, inscribed by the photographer, 'This is the back of the old church at Ranchos de Taos' in ink on the verso, the signature 'Dorothea Lange' inscribed in ink, presumably by Peter Howard.
4 x 6in


  • Provenance:
    From Dorothea Lange to Albert I. Elkus
    From the Elkus family to Peter Howard, owner of Serendipity Books, Berkeley, probably in the late 1960s or early 1970s

    Dorothea Lange's career as a photographer started around 1919. In the beginning she did commercial portraiture to make ends meet. In 1920, she married Maynard Dixon, a well-known painter of the Southwest. Starting in the early 1920s, Lange accompanied her husband to the Southwest on several occasions. Photographs by Lange from this period are rare. This photograph was taken on their last trip to the Southwest together in 1931. The vantage point of this formal composition captures the building's bold, simplistic architecture, and its majestic beauty.

    After Lange and Dixon returned to San Francisco at the end of 1931, they parted and lived in separate studios. Her orientation toward her photography shifted from studio work to photographing what she saw outside her window and on the street. Such images, as The White Angel Breadline, 1933, and General Strike, 1933, have marked her as one of the major documentary photographers of the Depression Era.

    Albert Israel Elkus (1884-1962) was a well-known and respected pianist and composer in the Bay Area. He held facility positions at Mills College, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley. His archive collection is housed at The Bancroft Library and several letters from Dorothea Lange are in his repository. Mr. Elkus was a professor at UCB during the same period of time Lange's second husband, Paul Taylor, was a professor of agricultural economics.

    Peter Howard (1939-2011) opened Serendipity Book Store on University Avenue in Berkeley in 1967. It was considered a landmark for Antiquarian books, Fine Art & Photography, Modern Literature & Poetry, John Steinbeck material, and Americana. The original small metal frame that this Dorothea Lange photograph was housed in was inscribed on the back 'Elkus' in pencil by Howard, as were the Imogen Cunningham photographs in his collection. This was his way of keeping track of the original source of his material.

    Bonhams held a sale of property from Serendipity Books in February. More sales from this collection are scheduled throughout 2012.

Saleroom notices

  • Description should read: the signature 'Dorothea Lange' inscribed in pencil, presumably by Peter Howard
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