Photographs capture the imagination at Bonhams New York

7 May 2013, Photographs

Photographs capture the imagination at Bonhams New York

7 May 2013, Photographs

NEW YORK—Bonhams May 7 Photographs auction at the Madison Avenue salesroom realized strong results for inventive compositions from established names, with a number of offerings significantly exceeding their pre-sale estimates. The auction attracted primarily domestic interest, although European participation was significant and bidders from as far as the Middle East were also represented. Bids were nearly evenly split between attendees, the telephones and those participating live online.

Selling for $80,500, a Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio from Edward Weston was the auction's top lot. The 12 photographs included were printed by Brett Weston under Edward Weston's supervision in an edition of 100. Many of Edward Weston's best-known photographs from the 1930s and 1940s were represented, such as Cabbage Leaf from 1931 and Nude from 1936.

Evocative urban and rural landscapes also performed well. The sale's cover lot, a memorable image from Gary Winogrand called Park Avenue, sold for $31,250. Shot in 1959, the photo captures a chic New York couple cruising down the famous avenue in a convertible, surrounded by high-rises, while their enraged pet monkey menaces the camera. Ansel Adam's moody Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico from 1941, depicting a distant collection of dwellings in front of crucifix dotted graveyard, realized $31,500. An unusual collection of late 19th century album prints and panoramas from image of Macau achieved $23,750.

A select group of exceptional nudes brought some of the auction's most notable results by substantially surpassing their estimates. La Buena Fama, Durmiendo, Manuel Alvarez Bravo's photo of a young woman sleeping topless outdoors in Mexico, circa 1939, tripled its pre-sale high estimate to sell for $21,750. Horace Bristol's 1944 Rescue at Rabaul, showing an improbably nude blister gunner, easily surpassed its pre-sale high estimate of $10,000 to achieve $17,500. Joel Peter Witkin's arresting nude Portrait of Nan, New Mexico realized more than double its pre-sale low estimate, bringing $14,375.

Other striking images that realized excellent results included Sebastiao Salgado's Man Lying in Oil, Kuwait, which tripled its pre-sale high estimate to achieve $15,000, and Robert ParkeHarrison's 2000 Tree Stories which sold for $31,250, more than double its pre-sale low estimate.

"The sale was a strong indicator that the market is robust and buyers are eager to acquire photographs," said Judith Eurich, Bonhams Director of Prints & Photographs.

The next Photography auction at Bonhams in New York will take place in October.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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