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Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 107   7/10/2006

Photo San Francisco Opens Next Week; Over 60 Exhibitors At 7th Annual Event; Discount For Newsletter Readers

Photo San Francisco 2006, the 7th Annual International San Francisco Photo-Based Art Exposition will be held July 20-23, 2006 at the historic Festival Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Galleries and private dealers from across the United States and around the world will exhibit for sale photographic art ranging from the results of early 19th-Century photographic experiments to photo-based art including video and digital art.

More than 60 premiere exhibitors representing an international array of artists will display photography at Photo San Francisco 2006. Vintage Works, Ltd. will take a double booth (AB2), which will be close to the entrance. Please come and visit us and say hello. In addition to our extensive selection of top vintage 19th and 20th-century masterworks, we will feature the contemporary work of Marcus Doyle, Christophe Pruszkowski, Stanko Abadžic, Joel D. Levinson and Charlie Schreiner. You can see more of their work at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php by scrolling down and clicking on their separate exhibits.

In addition to the booth displays organized by gallery, approximately ten areas throughout the Festival Pavilion will be set aside for a provocative mix of art installations, performance spaces and historical displays featuring video and mixed media work and making Photo San Francisco 2006 an event not to be missed. BEAT, a visual history of the Beat poets, GAY DAY, a never-before-seen collection of photos from a decade of New York's gay pride parade, the New Art Project, a curated video installation from Europe, and works from the Toronto-based 640 480 Video Collective are among the highly anticipated special installations to be featured during the exhibition.

"Now in its seventh year, photo san francisco has matured into an engrossing, artistically rich event that attracts collectors and curators to view new artists alongside established fixtures in the world of international photography," noted Stephen Cohen, president of artfairs inc. and owner of the Stephen Cohen Gallery. "Whether you are looking to add to your personal or institutional collection or would simply like to increase your understanding of photography as an art form, Photo San Francisco invites you to dedicate a long weekend to engaging with new and traditional photo-based art in one of the finest venues in the world."

An opening cocktail reception will be held on Thursday, July 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. to benefit Foto Forum/SFMOMA, a non-profit organization that brings together a diverse group of collectors, photographers, scholars and art professionals who share an enthusiasm for photography.

"The Photo San Francisco art fair is a summertime must-see event for our organization's members," says Wes Mitchell, President of Foto Forum / SFMOMA. "We're looking forward to acquiring fine pieces of photographic art for our personal collections, and using the proceeds from the event's opening reception to help SFMOMA bring a new photography exhibit to the public this year."

In tandem with the exhibition, a lecture series will take place July 21-23 with special guest speakers including internationally acclaimed artists Michael Childers and John Stoddart, Steve McCurry, Laura Letinsky, Ken Light, and Hank O'Neal. Additionally, John Bennette, a recognized curator and consultant, and Sandra Phillips, senior curator at SFMOMA, will lead seminars.

Normal exhibition hours are Friday, July 21st and Saturday, July 22nd, from12 to 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 23rd, from 12 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for a one-day pass and $25 for a three-day pass. But if you print out this article and present it at registration you will get these tickets at the reduced rates of $10 and $15 respectively. This special rate is only available on site, but remember to bring your printout. Catalogues are an extra $5 each at the fair.

Lectures are $10 per person, per speaking engagement and onsite collecting seminars are $75 (price includes a 3-day pass). A student discount on lectures and the price of fair admission will be given to guests with valid I.D. Tickets to the opening benefit reception are $60 per person. All exhibition, lecture, panel discussion and opening reception tickets are available for purchase in advance or at the door. Seminar tickets should be purchased in advance. For additional information regarding Photo San Francisco 2006 and advance ticket sales, visit http://www.artfairsinc.com .

Phillips Sets Its Highest Sales Total For a Photography Sale

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

Phillips de Pury & Company's New York Spring sale on April 26 reached the highest sale total by the firm to date for photography. At $6,180,063, it far surpassed the previous record total of $4.3 million set last October.

"The results we achieved reflect a solid base of interest in collecting photographs at Phillips de Pury & Company. We continue to be a highly competitive venue for sellers and a welcome source of fresh and enthralling material for collectors," Rick Wester, director and worldwide head of photographs said. "Our clientele is global and continues to broaden. For the third sale in a row, our client base expanded by high percentages and for the first time ever, we sold out of our catalogues," he added. Those catalogues proved to be very problematic as Phillips, in its quest for a clean look to its pages, moved the lot details to the back of the catalogue. It was a nice attempt but the almost universal complaints seem to have been heard and we probably won't see that again.

The first 109 lots in the morning sale were offered on behalf of a Private European Collection and the results were strong--but again, the bidding was slow going. The group was 93% sold by lot and achieved over $1.5 million against a pre-sale estimate of $1,010,000-$1,451,000.

Imogen Cunningham's portrait of Frida Kahlo went to the phone for almost double the high estimate at $42,000. Howard Greenberg took the top lot of this collection, Dora Maar's "Les années vous guettent" (Nusch Eluard), at $102,000 (third highest price for a photograph by the artist and sixth place in the sale). A 1950s print of Dorothea Lange's White Angel Breadline sold for more than 50% over the high estimate at $57,600. Rudolf Koppitz's wonderful but over-exposed "Bewegungsstudie" ($70,000–$90,000), went to the phone for only $60,000.

Lewis Hine's "Girl working on a Carolina Cotton Mill", brought $90,000 as a phone bidder out spun Lee Marks. That was the same price Phillips sold this same print for in April 2004 from Alex Novak's collection, still the second highest price for the artist at auction, but at a $75,000 hammer price, it was a net loss to the collector. Barry Singer weathered the bidding over Jeffrey Fraenkel for Arthur Rothstein's "Fleeing a Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma", 1936 at $36,000, a world auction record for the artist.

Robert Frank's "Paris" sold over estimate at $38,400. With a rubble-filled battered metal trash can in the foreground and a young girl--slightly out of focus--carrying a paper bag behind it, it's an evocative inverse of Cartier-Bresson's "Rue Mouffetard".

Camera Works' Ute Hartjen went just over estimate for Richard Avedon's Marilyn Monroe, Actress at $40,800.

As the morning dragged on through many lower priced lots and active bidding, auctioneer Rick Wester started talking faster and faster, but the bidding didn't go any faster. The last significant lot of this collection, lot 97, William Eggleston's "Near Minter City and Glendora, Mississippi" ($20,000-$30,000) went to a phone bidder at $69,600 at noon exactly. And lot 109, the last of the collection, was hammered down at 12:12. But there were still 100 lots to go in the morning session!

The sale continued with Karl Blossfeldt's "Cotula Turginata" ($60,000-$80,000) passing at $42,000. But the Werner Mantz portfolio of ten photographs more than tripled its high estimate at $48,000.

Next up was the cover lot, a Man Ray Rayograph, 1926. Howard Greenberg prevailed over a phone bidder at the low estimate, $296,000, making it the top lot of the sale and the third highest price for one of these unique works. Up next, Julia Margaret Cameron's Sir John Herschel, April, 1867, likewise sold to Greenberg, also at the low estimate, for $108,000 (the second highest price achieved for Cameron).

Edwynn Houk made off with a possibly unique print of André Kertész's "Still Life" ($70,000–$90,000) for $72,000. Tom Jacobson, who earlier championed the work of Pierre Dubreuil, consigned six x-ray images from the 1950s by Dr. Paul Fries. But unlike the lush surfaces of Dubreuil's prints, these were hard and glossy and not at all sensuous. They were also overpriced. Even a truly wonderful image of a hat passed. Only one of the group, a lower-priced but engaging image of a watering can, sold.

Harry Callahan's "Torn Sign", 1946, sold over estimate at $48,000. The Yousuf Karsh portfolio "Fifteen Portraits" brought the same price. A phone bidder flew the flag for Robert Frank's "Hoboken, NJ" at $96,000.

An inscribed and addressed post card of Diane Arbus's "Twins" was delivered to Howard Greenberg, consulting on his cell phone, for $66,000, over Bruce Silverstein. Oddly, the postcard has no stamp or postmark. Lee Friedlander's "Jazz and Blues" portfolio garnered $60,000 (the second highest price achieved for a Friedlander portfolio).

Robert Adams's "Outdoor Theater" (Colorado Springs), from "Current West", 1968 tripled its high estimate at $36,000. Irving Penn's still life, "Blast" (13 Steel Pieces), doubled its low estimate at $42,000. And Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Bay of Sagami, Atami" ($20,000-$30,000) surged to $56,400. Thus the morning session finally came to a close--at 1:45 p.m. With the afternoon session slated to begin at 2 p.m., yours truly exhorted the auctioneer to extend the starting time to 2:15, which he did. Still, for us masochists who sat through the entire auction, it was a brutal schedule.

"Albert Giacomelli working in his studio", by Cartier-Bresson, doubled its high estimate at $32,000. Man Ray's erotic "Le Prière" also went high at $57,600. And Edwynn Houk made off with Man Ray's "La Poursuite" at $38,400. Lisette Model's "Blind Man, Paris", 1937 set a world auction record for Model at $36,000.

A Moholy-Nagy Fotogramm sold at $114,000, good for third place at the sale. Then a world record price was achieved for Tina Modotti with the sale of her "Hands of the Puppeteer" at $216,000.

Howard Greenberg made a play for Paul Outerbridge, Jr.'s "The Piano", topping the high estimate--and dealer Charles Isaacs--at $108,000.

A phone bidder got high on Irving Penn's "Hippie Group, San Francisco", 1967 ($10,000-$15,000), taking it at $48,000. Ute Hartjen captured Robert Frank's "London" ($25,000-$35,000), with its top-hatted figure, at $72,000. Karen Marks, consulting on her cell phone, doubled the low estimate for William Klein's striking sea of faces, "Grace Line, New York", at $62,400.

Peter Lindbergh continued his winning ways as his "Amber Valletta, Harper's Bazaar, New York", flew to $74,400. Then Helmut Newton's "Big Nude IX, The Two Violettas" ($100,000–$150,000) passed at $90,000. But a group of five of his smaller "Big Nude" pictures went at the high estimate of $84,000.

A phone bidder grabbed Robert Mapplethorpe's "Flag" away from Turid Meeker for $100,800, a record price for a silver print of the work, and the second highest price for a single silver print by the artist.

Martin Schoeller's portrait of Bill Clinton didn't reach Angelina Jolie levels, but it did almost triple its high estimate at $36,000. Is there a political message here?

Four Sugimoto seascapes all topped their $30,000 high estimates and sold between $40,800 and $46,800. And for the last big lot, a bidder got starry-eyed for Thomas Ruff's "03h 30m / -20°" taking the prize at $78,000.

(Copyright ©2006 by The Photograph Collector.)


My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

Fireworks in French Auctions On Two Major Photography Albums

While the French photography auctions mostly stuttered along with relatively high buy-ins and a lack of real blockbusters this past Spring, in typical French fashion non-photography auctions with single lots of photography did amazingly well with little to no publicity here.

At the June 20th Claude Aguttes auction out in the French countryside in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the primary focus was upscale furniture and paintings--with one single lot of photography thrown in for good measure. But oh what a lot! A broken set of Louis De Clercq albums, minus only the Syrian forts album, was to become the top lot of the auction. The group had some variation, but was in generally good condition, according to my sources. It was estimated before the sale from 80,000-100,000 euros. The four lots were sold individually first, with the "faculte de reunion" that allowed the auctioneer to reopen the bidding for the five albums (the Jerusalem album was bound, as usual, together with the Stations of the Cross album) together at the aggregate of the individual bids. That is when the real action took over.

New York collector Michael Mattis had been tipped to the sale and had flown out to bid from the floor. The sale and the lot had been well advertised in the Gazette (the primary French publication covering such auctions) and so also drew the attention of others.

Mattis found himself bidding against French dealer Bruno Tartarin until 120,000 euros. Then a pair of phone bidders took on Mattis, driving the price up and up. Dealer Robert Hershkowitz, who previewed the day before, took one of those phones and was also one of the close underbidders at 260,000 euros. Finally, Mattis retired from the field after he bid to 262,000 euros and the second phone bidder went to nearly triple the mid-estimate at 265,000 euros, which with the premium of 20.33% meant that the actual total price in dollars for the lot was about $410,000. Nothing in France in the regular photo auctions came close to this action. In fact, no lot in a regular photography sale this past spring in New York or London beat this price.

But, if this were the top photography lot to hit the French market in a while, there was another lot which was to become an object of frustration for more than a few, including one photography auction expert.

Piasa, which had a rough time for much of its regular photography sale (more on this in future newsletters) due to high reserves, had an important photography album come up in its June 30th book sale. I am certain that Piasa's photography expert Yves Di Maria, who did a great job of trying to put together his first photography auction for Piasa (nice material, but now he has to convince most clients to lower their reserves), would have liked to have had this piece in his sale.

The Piasa book expert, who clearly does not know photography, put a ridiculously low estimate of only 400-500 euros on the lot and dated the album as 1890s, which turned out to be an exceedingly rare 1850s album of 87 photographs of Tahiti, Papeete and other Oceanic images by Paul Emile Miot. Although reportedly in so-so condition, the low estimate sparked considerable interest. When it was all over, a phone bidder took the lot for 87,000 euros, plus premium--about $135,000.

Mattis commented about a current trend brought to mind by both these sales, "Important 19th-century photo albums from the 1850s used to show up on the market with some regularity 20 years ago, when Judy and I first started collecting. Today they have all but disappeared. It's sad to think that so many such albums have been bought and split up in the intervening years; would that Humpty Dumpty could be put back together again!"

Sheeler Barn Goes For Nearly $100,000 On Ebay Live Auction to American Dealer

EBay Live Auctions got some unexpected action when a lot by Charles Sheeler, which was estimated at a meager $500-$1,000, sold for $95,000 to a floor bidder at the auction. The auctioneer, Grogan & Company of Dedham, MA, had clearly underestimated the item, which was Sheeler's famed 1918 modernist piece "Side of White Barn, Bucks County, PA". The provenance was originally from Agnes Ernst Meyer.

The lot only reached $1,700 from an online bidder, but those at the auction itself drove the bidding upward, well beyond this. I can report that the item was bought by an American dealer. Some sources estimate that the piece might bring as much as $800,000 in today's overheated market. In the mid-1990s, a similar piece was sold by Boston dealer and AIPAD President Robert Klein to New York photography dealer Peter MacGill, who in turn resold it to a collector, who bought it reportedly at the urging of Sandra Phillips, curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The ultimate price at that time was reportedly in mid-six figure territory.

Except for a minor "¼ inch bite out of the top right corner-not in image", as the auctioneer described it, the print is reportedly flawless. It was reported to be signed, titled and dated by the photographer. The image is considered to be one of the great and influential early 20th-century modernist works.

Interestingly enough, the sale drove out another print of White Barn on to eBay (ID # 110004458304). The seller has an interesting rationale for the dating of the image, which he attributed to Sotheby's. He claims that because it didn't glow under black light Sotheby's felt that it was a print made prior to the 1951 prints made by the New York Museum of Modern Art.

First of all, according to Paul Messier and other conservators, photography papers did not get brighteners added until 1953, and, secondly, the absence of brighteners certainly does not mean a print is before that period. Plenty of photo papers that have been made after that time will not fluoresce under black light--many even made today will not glow.

This latter print, which is currently being offered by an estate dealer from Bedford Hills, New York, also has a "shine" to it and is a bit washed out. Most Sheeler prints from this period have a matte finish. The seller has offered to show it to any interested parties and has a decent eBay track record.

Largest Update Ever On Vintage Works Images; Over 300 New Images Added in a Week

I went a little wild on my last buying trip to Europe. We have now added over 300 additional images to inventory--with many more to come after we return from Photo San Francisco and our West Coast trip later this month, so also watch in August for further additions to the websites.

It is difficult to list even a small number of these exciting photographs. But to give you a sampling, here are some of the 20th century images:

--A very rare and good Brassai of the Rome metro and a drunk sleeping it off.

--The only print in this size in private hands of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Magnum printing of Seville (plus other C-B images).

--Over a dozen new vintage Robert Doisneau images.

--The 1937 print by Robert Capa of the "Death of a Loyalist Soldier" that was actually used for the first printing in Life magazine (as well as another print of this image from circa 1964).

--Five vintage Jeanloup Sieff photographs (two early 1962 nudes--one including self portrait; and three 1960s prints from his coverage of Warsaw, Poland)

--A group of Josef Sudeks (two important still lifes, plus lots of vintage scenics).

--An Izis Paris night study a la Brassai.

--Daniel Masclet's published 1928 print of Pont Marie.

--The very famous and ground-breaking image of "Marian Anderson on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial", which was used in the original 1939 article of Life magazine. Taken by Thomas McAvoy, who was one of the four original Life staff photographers along with Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Carl Mydans.

--A scarce vintage Mario Giacomelli still life.

--Edith Gerin's multiple exposures and her signature image of a couple kissing on a park bench in the Parc du Luxembourg.

--A great vintage Willy Kesels nude with mask.

--Charles Harbutt's 1978 vintage photograph of a circus poster.

--A Willy Ronis vintage print of a painter in studio, probably Andre L'Hote.

--Several highly important autochromes, including a rare early tri-chrome stereo of the Lumiere Brother's photo equipment, Tournassoud's Mistress in a Hammock, a nude model in an artist's studio, a painter in his garden, plus many other great ones.

--A rare, although well-known vintage portrait of the Lumiere brothers in profile.

--A group of Gordon Parks images of a 1950 Paris assignment to cover the Harcourt Photography Studio for Life magazine.

--An important group of Christophe Pruszkowski images (including several large and rare ones). Pruszkowski's photosythesis approach has been highly influential on many contemporary artists, and he continues to make ground-breaking work, including a series on Iraqi terrorists.

--A rare vintage 1927 film still from Metropolis.

--Very rare vintage prints by Jacques Lowe (Intimate scene of John and Jackie Kennedy in the White House at dinner; and John Kennedy at work).

--A fine group of modernist prints from Blanc & Demilly.

--A vintage still life by Dr. Agha.

-- Perhaps Jürgen Schadeberg's best London image in a vintage print.

-- A 1924 Albert Rudomine of a Seated Nude.

--Early (circa 1910-1912) Astronomy views (comet, moon, exploding nebula, etc.).

--Three rare Sougez cloud studies.

--A Dora Maar study of hands.

--A rare view of the Athen's Parthenon by James Craig Annan.

--Two truly amazing images by R.L. Sleeth (a friend of Edward Steichen, and a steel industrialist from Pittsburgh).

--A very large and mounted X-Ray of a Woman from the early 1900s.

--And photographs (in most cases multiple images) by Inge Morath, Gus Manos, Gianni Berengo Gardin (some of his best images; he is called the Cartier-Bresson of Italy), Edouard Boubat, Irina Ionesco, Tomio Seike, Douglas Duncan, Laure Albin-Guillot, Jean Marie and Pierre Auradon, Denise Bellon, Victor Guidalivitch, Fritz Henle, Arthur Tress, Thurston Hopkins--just to mention a few names.

And these are in addition to a number of masterworks just added in May, which include two important Irving Penn's, a vintage Cartier-Bresson of Seville, a platinum print of the Photographer John Hagemeyer by Edward Weston, two Robert Franks, a Brett Weston dune, platinum prints of the Seeley sisters by both George Seeley and Alvin L. Coburn, a Yavno "Leg", John Coplan's " Self Portrait: Back and Hands", and a pair of Stieglitz autochromes of his daughter.

The 19th century includes:

--A tinted over-sized full-plate daguerreotype of Southworth & Hawes of an attractive woman with an off-the-shoulder dress.

--A rich and wonderful salt print from paper negative of the Citadel of Cairo by Anton Schranz.

--A salt print portrait of Jean Bernard Leon Foucault.

--A fine mammoth plate prints from Carleton Watkins (Devil's Canyon).

--Simply the best Alphonse Davanne that I have ever seen (Ships in Harbor at Le Treport in Normandy).

--Eugene Atget's "Mme. Chabrol et Etalage de Volailles aux Halles" (plus several other Atgets).

--A print of Crimean War Heroes by Cundall and Howlett.

--A circa 1860 Edmond Lebel image of his studio (the only other variant resides in the Musée d'Orsay).

--A Von Gloeden of a young flute player.

--A Louis Rutherfurd albumin print of the moon in eclipse.

--A scene in Brittany by Tournier that shows the identical street in sun and then in rain (I have never seen anything like it; he must have been experimenting with the light).

--Several Charles Marville salt prints.

--Numerous Western U.S. views, including of San Francisco, redwoods, etc. by photographers, such as Taber, Savage and Jackson.

--Several important stereo daguerreotypes, including one of a family with bird cage by Claudet and an erotic gypsy-like pose of a disheveled woman with pipe.

--An early Felice Beato photograph of four Japanese street performers and musicians.

--An interesting group of large prints documenting Hamburg, Germany by Georg Koppmann.

--A series of beautifully done albumin prints of views of the Himalayas from Kashmir.

--A fresh Middle East group by Wilheim Hammerschmidt (you will have to wait until August for most of these, but I have posted a separate Hammerschmidt of the Tree of the Virgin that is a solid '10').

--Several Samuel Bourne's of India.

--A salt print of three Italian pifferari in a Paris studio.

--A pair of fine lake scenes at Pierrefonds-les-Bains, France by Louis Joseph Deflubé.

--An interesting standing image of a young child by Louis Roger du Val (Comte du Manoir).

--Quarter plate ambrotypes of two women playing chess and a French guitar player with glasses.

Plus lots of other images just too numerous to mention.

These and more can all be found at http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php and putting in the Time Frame of Posting as "Past 7 days" (or more, if you are looking at this past the initial newsletter date).

We will also bring many of these items with us to Photo San Francisco, where we have taken our largest exhibition stand to date. While we were able to get many of these items matted and even framed, you will have to ask to see the additional boxes at the show. Our booth is AB2 and is right at the beginning of the entrance at the show, which will run from July 20-23rd at the Fort Mason Center.

With all the new images, I have also drastically revamped most of the special exhibitions from Vintage Works, Ltd. on the websites, so you might want to check them out at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php .

For Your Summer Reading Pleasure: Photography Books and Catalogues

By Matt Damsker

LUCIEN CLERGUE: FIFTY YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY; VINTAGE AND RECENT WORKS.

100 pages; 52 plates. Essay by Karen Sinsheimer. Hardback, limited edition of 500. ISBN No. 0-9749421-4-6. Published by Louis Stern Fine Arts, 9002 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069; phone 1-310-276-0147; fax: 1-310-276-7740. http://www.louissternfinearts.com .

Cocteau described him as a "poet with a camera" and Picasso championed him within Europe's cosmopolitan elite, and now, a vital septuagenarian, Lucien Clergue is very much with us. This handsome catalogue, sumptuously printed on Japanese white matte art paper, commemorates a recent display of his old and recent photography at Louis Stern Fine Arts, in which Clergue's consummate style and elegance are evident across five decades. The wonderful, theatrical images from the 1950s are incomparable--the richly shadowed street scenes, the portraits of street performers and the iconic shots of Picasso, Dali, and bullfighters, all of them vibrantly alive in Clergue's dramatic lighting and unerring composition.

By the '60s, of course, his artistry began to blossom, with shots of artfully posed, undulant nudes against natural textures of sand, rock and sea, or with zebra-striped shadowing. In the '80s, his color work offered vibrant portraiture, in Cibachrome, Ilfochrome, Polaroid--of artist David Hockney in a canary yellow shirt, against a field of sunflowers, or red abstractions. Always, an intensely sensual curiosity matches form with hue, geometry with tonality. The results are captivatingly diverse, as this elegant book portrays a visual imagination that seems incapable of running out of material.

WILLIAM, EARL OF CRAVEN & THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

By Noel Chanan. Published by Halsgrove; 2006; 240 pages. ISBN Nos. 1-84114-491-6; 978-1-84114-491-7. Halsgrove House, Lower Moor Way, Tiverton, Devon EX16 6SS; phone: 01884 243242; fax: 01884 243325; email: sales@halsgrove.com ; Website: http://www.halsgrove.com . Hardback, priced at 34.99 pounds (currently around $65).

Virtually unknown until the discovery in 1998 and 1999 of his large-scale photographs and an album of his photographic experiments, William, 2nd Earl of Craven, quickly took his place among the 19th-century British pioneers of the medium. Now, author, filmmaker and photographer Noel Chanan has delivered this deeply researched biography of Craven, replete with lovingly reproduced plates of his vintage sepia-toned images. The result is an important work of scholarship, handsomely bound and sure to take its place as a definitive study of Craven.

Being an independently wealthy member of the nobility, Craven was not motivated by financial need, and so he rarely exhibited, preferring to develop his artistry in the privacy of his estate, Ashdown Park, west of London. His leisurely approach seems well reflected by his output, which focused to a great extent upon his family, his homestead, the surrounding wealth of nature, especially the winter and summer trees of Ashdown, and even some self-portraiture. Craven also collected his contemporaries, including wet-plate photography pioneer Frederick Scott Archer, Roger Fenton and Gustave Le Gray. Indeed, Craven's photographs match up well with those of such well-known masters. As Chanan suggests, Craven's expertise with wet-collodion printing was likely a direct result of his contact with Archer, and the details of Craven's technique are exhaustively documented here.

Ultimately, though, it is the photographic evidence itself that marks Craven as an early master, conveying everything from the architectural loveliness of Ashdown to starkly contrasted views of magnificent trees that connect strongly with the emerging romanticism of the mid-1800s. If anything, Craven's deeply educated eye, so mindful of the techniques and traditions of painting, lent his photographs a powerful pictorial dimension, and so there is a universe of palpable mood and careful composition in these vintage images. For his scholarly devotion to Craven's quietly buried treasure, the photography world owes Chanan a debt of gratitude that will doubtless be repaid for years to come.

ANTIQUITY & PHOTOGRAPHY: EARLY VIEWS OF ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN SITES.

By Claire L. Lyons, John K. Papadopoulos, Lindsey S. Stewart, and Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. 2005; 226 pages, 124 color and 6 black-and-white plates; ISB-13 No. 978-0-89236-805-1; ISBN-10 No. 0-89236-805-5. Published by Getty Publications, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles CA 90049-1682. http://www.getty.edu .

Issued in connection with an exhibition of the same title at the Getty Villa, Malibu, Calif., during the winter and spring of this year, this magisterial volume explores photography's influence on archaeology between 1840 and 1880, a time when both archaeology and photography were evolving rapidly as professions. Indeed, it's obvious that both pursuits depended on each other in that crucial period, with photography seeking exotic and distant locales for its development, and archaeology relying more and more on photographic documentation. Thus, these vintage, iconic images seem doubly valuable in the context of this study--early shots of the pyramids of Giza, the Roman Forum, and the Acropolis in Athens gave scholars worldwide a richness of detail to study, while enchanting a wider audience with the first great wave of photographic tourism.

The essays in this book look at the careers of such key early photographers as Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey and William James Stillman, along with portfolios by Maxime du Camp, John Beasley Greene, Francis Frith, Robert Macpherson and other luminaries of Mediterranean imagery. This first wave of photographers to visit the Mediterranean sites were eager to fill in the visual gaps that had been left by the draftsmen and painters of the pre-photographic era, and so their photos were geared toward maximizing the wide-angle potential, multiple views, and close-up detailing that only photography affords. For example, images of Egyptian ruins are carefully composed with human figures in the foreground, to provide a sense of realistic scale, while the long perspectives of Pompeii's ruined streets provide a sense of how day-to-day life must have felt in these ancient places.

Particularly impressive are the photographs of the buildings and heights of Athen's Acropolis, such as Dimitrios Constantin's 1865 view contrasted with Constantine's Athanassiou's 1880 view, both from the same encompassing vantage, detailing how much the landscape had been changed and unchanged in the intervening years. And the many views of the Parthenon and other iconic structures reveal the architectural splendor and atmosphere of these precious sites with tremendous immediacy and clarity.

TWO VOLUMES OF VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY OF VERONA, ITALY

Guided by the expert eye of "La Grafica" editor Giuseppe Milani, these two handsome hardback books explore the architecture of one of Italy's most picturesque locales, Verona, from multiple perspectives. In "I Cinguantacinque Ponti di Verona," (2003; 182 pages; approximately 150 plates), Milani explores the many and highly varied bridges that once spanned and still span the area, ranging from shots taken in the 1860s to the 1990s, and documenting not only the beauty of these structures but their evolution, construction, repair and their relationship to the surrounding urban scene. These wonderful moments in time capture people strolling or relaxing upon these bridges along with the exceptional latticework, masonry, and myriad design details that make each one unique. From the nearly ruined 16th-century stone masterwork, the Ponte Pietra a valle, photographed in 1859 (its end came in 1945 when the Nazi's blew it up; only to have the town rebuild it from the bricks retrieved from the river) to the modern-era steel spans that survive to this day, these remarkable works of civic pride and craftsmanship are preserved in photographic splendor by Milani.

Likewise, Milani's more recent tome, "Verona nelle fotografie dell'Ottocento" (2005; 223 pages; approximately 200 plates) explores the great urban images of Verono in the 19th century, preserving such superb architectural niceties as the Portoni della Bra, a high stone archway with its large clock centered between the dual arches. Many such portales are in evidence here, along with images of the vast piazzas and plazas, filled with citizenry during state occasions, or else majestically emptied of people.

The street scenes, the churches, and the countless facades are made remarkably vivid in these vintage photos, which are crisply printed on a fine glossy stock. The result is a textural wonderland of Italian culture and architectural fascination, bringing us closer to a vanished time than we would otherwise think possible.

For more information on these two books, visit the Website http://www.lagraficaeditrice.it or email tiplagrafica@tin..it .


Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.

He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.

(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)