Auction of the Week: Swann Auction Galleries Icons & Images Sale February 15 2018



2018-01-22 16:05:42

Our featured auction this week is Swann Auction Galleries' forthcoming Icons & Images sale of photographs and photobooks, which takes place in New York on February 15. Here are 10 of our favourite lots...

Marilyn Monroe 'Last Sitting' Portfolio by Bert Stern

Estimate $18,000 - 22,000

This portfolio features seven photographs of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, taken during her famous 'Last Sitting' with close friend and photographer Bert Stern.

The shoot took place over the course of three days in June 1962 at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and produced some of the most iconic images of Monroe ever captured. They were also some of the last, as just two months later she was found dead in her Hollywood home.

This rare portfolio, printed in 2008-2009, is one of only 12 numbered copies and features Stern's signature on the reverse of each photograph.

The North American Indian Portfolio V by Edward S. Curtis

Estimate $18,000 - 22,000

This portfolio, published in 1907, contains 36 photogravures from Edward S. Curtis' landmark study of Native Americans.

In 1906 Curtis set out on an epic quest across America to record Native American cultures and traditions before they were forever destroyed by white expansion.

Curtis spent years travelling through dangerous uncharted territories and living amongst native tribes, who came to know him as "Shadow Catcher".

He took over 40,000 photographic images of members of over 80 tribes, producing a 20-volume set of books which The New York Herald described as "the most ambitious enterprise in publishing since the production of the King James Bible."

Derrick and workers on girder, Empire State Building by Lewis W. Hine

Estimate $10,000 - 15,000

This image of workers balanced precariously on the steel beams of the Empire State Building was taken circa 1930-31 by Lewis W. Hine.

Hine spent 10 years posing undercover in factories and mills to photograph the terrible working conditions faced by young children throughout in the early 20th century. These images shocked the public, and were later instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States

He also documented the construction of the Empire State Building, risking his life to capture images of workers in precarious positions, and took many of his photographs suspended in a small basket 1,000 ft above Fifth Avenue.

Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge by Roy Decarava

Estimate $15,000 - 25,000

This rare photograph depicts Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge, two of the greatest trumpet virtuosos in the history of jazz.

It was taken in 1956 by Roy DeCarava, the first African-American photographer to win a Guggenheim Fellowship, whose work documented life in Harlem and was published in his seminal book 'The Sweet Flypaper of Life'.

The silver gelatine print dates from 1980, and is signed by DeCarava on the reverse.

Guerrillero Heroico by Alberto Korda

Estimate $3,000 - 4,500

This photograph of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

The photograph was originally taken by Korda in Havana on March 5, 1960, during a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion.

It has since been described as "the world's most famous photograph", and the image of Guevara has become a cultural symbol for freedom and revolution around the globe.

This silver gelatine print dates from the late 1990s, and bears Korda's signature on the reverse.

Archive of Civil Rights movement photographs

Estimate $3,000 - 4,000

This archive features more than 100 press and wire photographs relating to the Civil Rights movement in America.

The photographs are organized by location, taken in cities and states such as Atlanta, Alabama, Chicago, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Washington D.C.

The images depict dramatic events such as the March on Washington in August 1963, and demonstrations in Selma, Alabama in 1965, with many capturing shocking moments of police brutality against protestors.

Dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, almost all of the photographs in this important archive are affixed with the original press clippings, hand stamps and press notations.

The Babe Bows Out by Nat Fein

Estimate $2,500 - 3,500

The Babe Bows Out is one of the most iconic images in the history of American sport.

Taken by Nat Fein on June 13, 1948, it captures the final farewell of baseball legend Babe Ruth during a moving ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

The 'Sultan of Swat' was suffering from terminal cancer, and used his trusty bat to steady himself as he stepped out in front of his fans for one last time, in a stadium known to all as 'The House That Ruth Built'.

Two months later Ruth passed away, and Fein was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the photo, the first ever presented to a sports photographer.

This silver gelatine print dates from the 1980s, and is signed by Fein on the reverse.

Bikini Atoll Atomic Bomb Test Archive

Estimate $6,000 - 9,000

This remarkable mini-archive captures the immense power of the atomic bomb during tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946.

The Baker bomb was detonated underwater at a depth of 90 ft, producing a 5000-by-2000 ft water column and sinking eight ships in the vicinity. It also produced far higher levels of nuclear contamination that expected, and was later described as "the world's first nuclear disaster."

The archive features five large-format panoramic images taken from land and sky, along with smaller photographs of the tests and a group photo of the scientists and military personnel that carried them out.

The photographs originate from the personal collection of Professor Eugene Starr, a professor at Oregon State University who served as a consultant to the National Defense Research Committee during WWII and witnessed the explosive tests first-hand.

New York (dog legs) by Elliot Erwitt

Estimate $4,000 - 6,000

Also known as 'Felix, Gladys, and Rover', this famous image of a sharply-dressed Chihuahua was taken in 1974 by Elliot Erwitt, an American photographer renowned for capturing the absurdity of life within everyday settings.

Erwitt is regarded as a master of what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "the decisive moment" – the fraction of a second in which the perfect composition comes together.

Throughout his career he has published five photographic books focused on dogs, and many of his most iconic images depict four-legged subjects in ridiculous situations.

This silver gelatine print is signed by Erwitt on the reverse, and was printed in the 1980s.

V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Estimate $10,000 - 15,000

This photograph of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square was taken on August 14, 1945 as people celebrated V-J Day, marking the Japanese surrender and the end of WWII.

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the spontaneous moment, having watched the sailor kiss countless women, young and old, as he followed him through the square.

"I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn't make a difference...Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse...It was done within a few seconds."

The photograph was published a week later in LIFE Magazine, and has since become of the most famous images of the 20th century.

This silver gelatine print is signed by Eisenstaedt on the reverse, and was printed in the 1970s.

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