Rapturous Flower Portrait By Irving Penn Highlights Bonhams New York Photographs Sale in October

New York – Bonhams will offer a rare poppy portrait from Irving Penn's (1917-2009) floral series at its Photographs sale in New York on October 6. Penn began photographing his enchanting botanical still-lifes in 1967 on assignment for Vogue and continued to publish the portraits in the magazine's annual Christmas issue through 1973. Each issue highlighted a different blossom, including the tulip, rose, lily, peony, orchid, begonia and the poppy. Offered in the sale is a dye transfer print of Poppy: Glowing Embers, estimated at $150,000 – $250,000, which first debuted in December 1968 in the feature titled 'Free, Profuse, Strong as a Wolf, the Poppy is Vital, Persistent'.

"Irving Penn's perspicacious pursuit of truth and beauty in all of his photographic subjects is the cornerstone of his work, from his 1950s fashion images to his eye-opening still-life studies, and certainly his floral portraits are no exception. His meticulous investigations portray each flower as something divine and invite viewers to observe its intricate form from his intimate, distinct perspective," says Kelly Sidley, Bonhams Head of Photographs. "Penn presented Glowing Embers as the ne plus ultra among his 13 poppy portraits. Unlike other poppies photographed well past their prime, Glowing Embers celebrates the poppy at its most vibrant and animated."

The sale also features Richard Avedon's (1923-2004) Francis Bacon, artist, 4-11-79, estimated at $150,000-250,000. This year marks the centennial of Avedon's birth and many exhibitions have paid tribute to the artist, including 2023 solo presentations at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Gagosian in New York, and Hamiltons Gallery in London. A photographer who profoundly influenced visual culture, Avedon captured portraits of hundreds of subjects from a wide variety of backgrounds, including musicians, pop icons, writers, models, political activists, artists and thought leaders. This eminent double portrait of artist Francis Bacon mirrors the narratives painted in the painter's own portraits, which he often created in diptych and triptych formats. Two additional portraits by Avedon of Andy Warhol are also included in the sale, estimated at $12,000 – $18,000 and $10,000 – $15,000 respectively.

Additional highlights of the sale include:

• A group of 137 cyanotypes by Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), nearly all unique works, estimated at $70,000 – $100,000

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, printed in the 1960s, estimated at $80,000 – $120,000

William Eggleston (born 1939), En Route to New Orleans, c. 1971-74, estimated at $30,000 – $40,000

Valie Export (born 1940), Action Pants: Genital Panic, estimated at $25,000 – $35,000

Massimo Vitali (born 1964), Picnic Alternatif 1, estimated at $20,000 – $40,000

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992), Untitled (Buffaloes), from a memorial edition of 12, estimated at $10,000 – $15,000

• Six lifetime photographs by Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), estimates ranging from $3,000 – $5,000 to $5,000 – $7,000


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com.


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