Sotheby’s to sell remarkable 1852 Gustave Le Gray photographs

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2015-06-26 10:49:14

Sotheby’s to sell remarkable 1852 Gustave Le Gray photographs

20 Apr 2012, 11:36 GMT+01

Sothebys Paris are to hold a Photographs sale on 15th May 2012, and have announced the inclusion of a singular set of photographs taken by Gustave le Gray in 1852.

The photographs were commissioned to document the works of the 1852 Paris Salon, the exhibition of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, one of the greatest events in the world. In the year 1852, the Paris Salon was held in the Palais Royal for the second, and last time. Gustave Le Gray’s career was yet to have taken off: that would come in four years time, with the display of his maritime views in London. Thus, this is a rare and remarkable collection of the early work of one of the most important French photographers of the 19th century.

Containing 9 salt paper prints from waxed paper negatives with photographer’s blindstamp, the album is an extremely rare complete surviving copy of all photographs. One other is known to exist, and is held by the Musée d’Orsay. The last photograph in the album (pictured) is actually not of the 1852 exhibition, but of the 1850-51 Paris Salon.

The green shagreen binding is embellished with an imperial eagle and the monogrammed letter M to the rear cover. This M is considered to possible be Napoléon III’s cousin, Mathilde Laeticia Wilhelmine, as her companion at the time was Comte Emilien de Nieuwekerke, the director general of the French national museums and authority organising the Salon.

In October 1999, a Le Gray albumen print entitled Beech Tree, Fontainbleau, was sold for £419,500. At the time this broke the world record for the most expensive single photograph to be sold at auction. Later the same day, Le Gray’s The Great Wave, Sete, again broke the record selling for £507,500 ($840,370). This record stood until 2003.

Other notable items at the auction will include a vast selection of modern photographs, with portraits by Man Ray and images by Ilse Bing, as well as an impressive collection of iconic fashion photography and an interesting insight into America, with photographs from Walker Evans and Joel Sternfeld.

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