dinsdag 1 april 2008

Thomas Wedgwood 'the world's oldest photo' Photography

Sotheby's: 'Leaf' photo early as 1790 by Ula Ilnytzky Associated Press

NEW YORK - Sotheby's auction house is selling a primitive photograph that could be a much earlier work than originally believed. If so, Sotheby's says, it would be one of the most important discoveries in the history of photography.

"Leaf," to be sold at Sotheby's on April 7, is a photogenic drawing - a cameraless process in which an object is placed on silver nitrate-coated paper or leather to form a negative image.

It had previously been attributed to William Henry Fox Talbot, considered the father of photography along with Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre. It was thought to have been made in 1839 at what is widely accepted as the dawn of photography.

But Sotheby's says research by a leading photo expert suggests otherwise, that several early photo experimenters could be the authors, including Thomas Wedgwood, James Watt and Humphry Davy, who worked in the medium decades earlier. If that theory is true, it means the photo could have been made as early as 1790.

"When we thought it was Talbot," said Denise Bethel, Sotheby's director of photography, "we gave it a $100,000 to $150,000 estimate. Now with this other possibility . . . it's certainly far more valuable."

Sotheby's catalog lists "Leaf" as "Photographer Unknown." But the auctioneer says an inscription of the initial "W" on the corner of the photo could point to Wedgwood or Watt as possible authors. Wedgwood died in 1805; Watt in 1819.

"Leaf" was among six similar anonymous works that were sold individually at Sotheby's London in 1984. It was purchased by a dealer for $776, and only later attributed to Talbot.
Art sales: buyers focus on 'the world's oldest photo'
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/04/2008

Colin Gleadell reports on US photography salesMarket news: Takashi Murakami’s Panda video
A 200-year-old faded picture of a leaf, stylish shots of glamorous fashion models, an array of long-lost freak-show snaps - all could make big money at next week's photography sales in New York, where more than 1,000 lots convey the enormous diversity of taste for which this market now caters.

Sophisticated: Mouth for L’Oréal (1986) by Irving Penn
The most intriguing is the picture of the leaf. Bought in London in 1984 for about £6,000, it was thought by the buyer, New York dealer Hans P Kraus, to be a photogenic drawing (an image traced by solar rays of an object placed on light-sensitive paper) of c.1839 by William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the founding fathers of photography. As such it would now be worth between £50,000 and £75,000, according to Sotheby's photography expert Denise Bethel.

But independent scholar Dr Larry J Schaaf, who has written the sale catalogue entry, thinks it might have been made more than 20 years earlier, possibly by Thomas Wedgwood, a member of the Wedgwood china family, who first started experimenting with primitive forms of photography in the 1790s. This would make it the oldest photograph in existence.

No examples of Wedgwood's photographs are known to have survived, so this, says Bethel, might be "one of the most important discoveries in the history of photography". As such, she adds, "the sky could be the limit" in terms of prices, so no price guide has been given. The record for a photograph was set two years ago when Edward Steichen's The Pond-Moonlight (1904) sold for £1.4m.

The leaf picture is part of the sale of the Quillan collection, formed by an investment group during the late Eighties to "represent photography's achievements from its beginnings to the near present". Especially strong on 19th-century photographs, it also includes rare experimental 20th-century works and just touches on celebrity pictures with Richard Avedon's understated 1957 portrait of Marilyn Monroe (£35,000 to £50,000).

A connoisseur's collection, it is the centre-piece of Sotheby's sales which focus on the traditional collecting areas of 19th- and classic modern 20th-century works.

Christie's, on the other hand, leans more towards what it calls the "high style and sophistication" of the later 20th century. They open with the third in a series of sales from the collection of former photographer and gallery owner Gert Elfering, whose interest lay in the style and glamour of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar over the past 50 years.

Thick with works by Helmut Newton and Irving Penn priced in tens of thousands of pounds, the auction also includes works by lesser-known artists such as the now famous portrait of France's First Lady Carla Bruni by Michel Comte (up to £2,000).

The relative sparseness of 19th- and early-20th-century work in Christie's sales is due to a dwindling supply, says Philippe Garnier, the auction house's head of photography, but is also "symptomatic of a broadening market".

The success of the first sale of works from the Elfering collection in 2005 saw a "shifting of the balance of power in the marketplace," says Garnier. "Fashion photography, which was once marginalised because of the commercial context in which it was produced, has become recognised as being at the very heart of post-war photography."

Phillips de Pury & Co's sales also brush with fashion, but are marked by a collection of previously unknown, unique prints by Diane Arbus, the one-time fashion photographer who became celebrated for her quirky, voyeuristic images of people on the fringes of society.

Once owned by Charlie Lucas, the manager of Hubert's Museum, the freak-show venue in Times Square that closed down in 1965, the photographs of giants, midgets, sword-swallowers and contortionists presage her later, more famous work. Estimates at the sale range from £10,000 to £60,000.

Phillips is hoping to sell as much as £4 million of mostly modern and contemporary photographs next week. The telling contest, however, will be between Sotheby's and Christie's, both aiming at over £7 million but with two very different sale agendas. While Sotheby's is relying on more traditional content with just 182 lots, Christie's has mustered more than 600 lots of "style and sophistication" to carry the day.

Zie voor de oudste foto van Nederland ...

Geen opmerkingen: