Issue #115  11/22/2006
Be-hold Auction Held On Dec. 7th With 19th-Century, as Well as 20th-Century Masters, Like Kertesz, Adams, Smith, Strand

The Be-hold 48 absentee catalog/internet auction will take place on December 7, 2006 with an adventurous presentation of photographs, from daguerreotypes to modern.

There is an interesting selection of offbeat but pedigree prints by major masters in this sale, including a New York City store window with classic sculpture by Kertesz, a vintage 1944 store window with fishing-related objects by Todd Webb and a rare 1952 signed photograph of a scene in Italy by Paul Strand. There are also a 1940s portrait of Beaumont Newhall by Ansel Adams, a large brilliant portrait of the Japanese Nobel-prize winning novelist Kawabata by Karsh, a large 1955 landscape by Ilse Bing, several usual prints by W. Eugene Smith and two Atget photographs printed by Berenice Abbott. More contemporary landscapes by John Wimberly and Charles Roff are also in this auction.

A section of documentary and journalistic photographs includes an important 1937 exhibition print by Gisele Freund of Andre Malraux and a bombardier during the Spanish Civil War, opening at only $400. There are also Spanish Civil War and WWII prints by Robert Capa. An early (one of two prints) photograph by Arthur Siegel, an early print of an FSA photograph by Jack Delano of a gypsy child in Maryland (cover of the catalog) and an early (if printed somewhat later) print of a Margaret-Bourke White photograph dealing with the 1947 migration to Pakistan are also included in this section.

A highlight of the sale are several lots offering an archive of photographs dealing with the great Nez Perce Chief Joseph and his surviving band of warriors who were exiled to the Colville reservation in Washington State. Of the great Indian warrior chiefs, including Geronimo and Sitting Bull, Joseph was the only one who remained in his traditional role as leader of his tribe in exile. This archive is further enhanced by the provenance which stemmed from the family of the daughter of a couple who taught at the Indian School at the reservation around 1900. As a young girl she served as an interpreter for Joseph and those who photographed these important images.

Another major archive chronicles the voyage of the U.S.S. Thetis to Alaska and the Arctic in 1888-89. There are many photographs of native peoples and shipboard life, annotated by a member of the crew. Many have an intimate informal character. Another significant offering is a group of rare carte-de-visites by Lawrence and Houseworth of mining scenes in Nevada and California, as well as scenes in and around San Francisco. While these may seem to be primarily of historical interest, they are masterpieces of artistic composition. Several lots are devoted to rare Hawaiian subjects. An album of photographs of Iraq (1928c) has striking reverberation to current news. Aside from the topographic photographs, it includes scenes of British planes flying over the landscape, and some planes damaged in their hangars.

In the last few years "vernacular" photographs have come to be associated with 20th-century snapshots, but Be-hold continues to offer photographs from throughout the history of photography that appeal to contemporary and not just antiquarian sensibilities. A good example is a photograph of the head of the Statue of Liberty before it was assembled, an image that has a compelling photographic quality that transcends its original purpose. A section of these offerings called "Scenes of American Life" includes many other images, for example a group relating to the circus, that have a photographic power that is far beyond their documentary function.

The traditional formats of daguerreotypes and stereo views are well represented. Notable daguerreotypes include a fine colored portrait of a fireman, a gold miner in the studio, and men with their dog.

A preview and reception will take place in New York City on Dec. 1-3. The Reception, which will be held on Dec. 1-2, Friday and Saturday at 5 pm at the Affinia 50 Hotel, 155 E. 50th St. The preview will also be held at the Affinia 50 Hotel, Dec.1, Friday from 3-9 pm and Dec. 2, Saturday from 9 am-9 pm; and Dec. 3, Sunday from 9 am-12 pm. The online auction will be held on Dec.7, Thursday, starting at 2 pm. For further information email: behold@be-hold.com or contact Larry Gottheim at 1-914-423-5806. Information and scans can be found on the Be-hold.com web site at http://www.be-hold.com/ , and there is an informative illustrated printed catalog available to purchase by contacting Be-Hold.