Two unique, vintage prints, a rare Man Ray montage, and a one-of-a-kind mural-sized Peter Beard image fetched the highest prices at Sotheby’s spring photography auction, held yesterday in New York City. The total for the auction was $5.6 million.
Auction records were set for Beard, Jaromír Funke and Timothy H. O’Sullivan.
The top lot at $410,500 was an untitled Man Ray photomontage, which the photographer created by sandwiching two negatives together: one of a female nude torso, the other of a studio light and reflector. The print—one of four believed to be in existence and the only one in private hands—is the only one mounted, signed, and stamped by Man Ray. “I had great hopes for the piece because I thought it was an important photograph from an important point in May Ray’s career,” said Christopher Mahoney, a vice-president in Sotheby’s photography department. The other prints are held by the MoMA, J. Paul Getty Museum and Bibilothèque Nationale de France.
A unique print of an abstract photograph created by Jaromír Funke in 1929 sold for $350,000. Funke created the image as part of his Abstraktní foto (Abstract Photo) series, capturing shadows of objects placed on a windowsill.
Matthew B. Brady’s daguerreotype portrait of Vice President and Senator John C. Calhoun, dated 1849, brought in $338,500, which Mahoney said was a surprise. “I had hoped to attract a number of serious people on this piece,” he said, adding that it fetched “a price that registers the importance of this object.” Brady’s portrait was among the most famous his Washington, D.C. studio produced, and it is considered a definitive portrait of Calhoun. The portrait was the basis for a famous painting of Calhoun now owned by the Senate. Mahoney says the sale reflects the status of the piece as both a beautiful object and an important historical artifact. READ ALL