Issue #100  1/8/2006
Jan. 18th Be-hold Auction Scales Up With More 20th-Century Photography

Be-hold's absentee auction will take place on Wednesday January 18th, 2006, starting at 7 pm (Eastern Standard Time). Bids may be left directly with Be-hold, or bid on eBay Live in conjunction with iCollector.

While remaining faithful to its original foundation in small-format 19th-century photographs, the Be-hold 46 catalog/internet auction makes a major step forward in its presentation of significant 20th-century material. Maybe it is related to the other New York auction houses' move up the scale and on to erotica, but it seems that Be-hold appears willing and capable to fill the void for solid photography that isn't priced in six-figures, although give this auction time and it just might sell some items into that price range.

A strong selection of landscape photographs begins with some important moody pictorialist images by the great Belgian pictorialist, Leonard Misonne, followed by an equally moody 1918 French study by the Californian Fred Archer, made while he served in France in WWI. American material includes a rich California seaside scene by Jesse Tarbox Beals, a smaller 1930s "texture study" by Carlotta Corpron, and a 1965 shoreline study by Brett Weston. There is a great example of a glowing orotone sea and cloud view in its original frame, probably depicting a scene in Florida or perhaps Washington. But the highlight of this auction is an early 1970s print of Ansel Adams' iconic "Moonrise Over Hernandez, N. Mexico", reportedly in excellent condition. With a temptingly low $30,000 minimum bid and a quality level that the big houses only rarely get on this image, this print is clearly priced to go.

Contemporary images include a rare complete portfolio of Garry Winogrand's "15 Big Shots". This was projected to be an edition of 100, but only 35 portfolios were actually produced. Other prints include a printed-later abstraction by William Keck, photographs by Keith Carter, Franco Fontana and others. There is a rare pictorialist nude 1917c by Belgium pictorialist and friend of Misonne, Maurice Ummels and a group of eight postcard-sized photographs by Drtikol. A striking 1930 nude by Willy Kessels is offered, as well as a 1930s advertising collage by Kessels. Another striking collage in the sale, this time from the 1940s, is by Grancel Fitz.

Social-oriented material includes a large rich 1939 print by Arthur Siegel of a union crowd, similar to his famed "Right of Assembly" and a 1940s Chicago night scene by Gordon Coster. There are scenes of San Francisco billboards from the post-Earthquake era, and a 1950s picture by the under-appreciated San Francisco photographer Phil Palmer. Vintage press prints include some Israel War subjects by Cornell Capa, and Vietnam War images by P. Jones-Griffiths and Ralph Nelson.

Twentieth-century portraits include three great one-of-a-kind hand-colored Indian portraits by Carl Moon in their original frames, and wonderful pictorialist portraits by Max Thorek and the Hawaiian photographer Carolyn Haskins Gurrey. There is also a strong art-deco style portrait by Dorothy Wilding of the tennis star and fashion icon Helen Wills.

In the wake of the recent show of Spirit Photographs at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is an important spirit photograph tintype, and several photographs from the Cyril Permutt collection that were used for his book "Photographing the Spirit World".

Many other lots show the unexpected world of images that have characterized Be-hold offerings.

There are 41 lots of daguerreotypes, including a pair of important stereoscopic daguerreotypes by T.R. Williams with possible family connections to the photographer, as well as a stereo daguerreotype by Claudet and a stereoscopic daguerreotype nude with tambourine. Other daguerreotypists represented in the sale include Whitehurst, Root, Brady, Carleton and others.

The generous selection of daguerreotypes and later unique images--ambrotypes and tintypes--is supplemented by a collection of thermoplastic cases and related objects, some containing interesting images. This last section is available only on the Internet at the site http://www.be-hold.com . Everything else is also presented in the excellent printed catalogue, which can be ordered from Be-hold for $20, or $50 (North America); $70 (elsewhere) for a subscription to three issues, plus follow-up results/reports.

The early material includes a strong selection of cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards and stereo views, as well as early albumen prints, including a rare signed albumen print showing a photo gallery by Abel Niepce de St. Pierre.

The absentee auction will take place on Wednesday January 18th, 2006, starting at 7 pm (Eastern Standard Time). See the catalog or web site for information. There will be a preview in New York City, at the Affinia 50 Hotel (50th St. and 3d Ave.) on January 11th, 12th and the morning of the 13th, with a reception at 5 pm on Thursday, January 12. Contact Larry Gottheim at Be-hold by phone at 1-914-423 5806, or by email at behold@be-hold.com . The illustrated catalogue can be ordered from Larry directly or via the http://www.be-hold.com website.