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Iconic Ansel Adams photograph leads Swann Auction galleries’ sale

An iconic image by Ansel Adams will lead Swann Auction Galleries’ latest photography sale.
Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks will feature 270 lots, with images from some of history’s most important photographers.

Adams originally took the landscape ‘Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’, perhaps his most famous photograph, in 1941. The copy offered at Swann was a gift from Adams himself to Edwin Land, the inventor who co-founded the Polaroid Corporation.

Land later gave the photograph to Nobel Prize-winning scientist Edward Mills Purcell, after they served together on President Eisenhower’s Science Advisory Committee (the precursor to NASA). As the only-known 1950s print of ‘Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’ ever offered at public auction, the photograph is expected to sell for $200,000-$300,000.

Other Adams works on offer will include ‘The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming’, estimated at $30,000-$50,000, and River, Cliffs, Autumn, Yosemite Valley, California priced at $9,000-$12,000.

Further top lots in the sale include Dorothea Lange’s 1943 image ‘The General Strike, Policeman’ estimated at $40,000-$60,000; a copy of the Garry Winogrand portfolio ’15 Big Shots’, estimated at $25,000-$35,000; an album of microscopic snowflake photographs by pioneering scientific photographer Wilson Bentley, estimated at $20,000-$30,000; and Lewis W. Hine’s 1908 photograph ‘Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner, Lancaster, South Carolina’, estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Another fascinating lot is the only-known photograph of the 19th century performer General Tom Thumb and his parents. Standing at less than three feet tall, Thumb (real name Charles Sherwood Stratton) was discovered by circus pioneer P.T. Barnum and became one of the world’s most famous stage performers. This rare daguerreotype portrait, dating from 1846 when Thumb was ten years old, was taken by photographer Marcus A. Root and is valued at $30,000-$40,000.

Elsewhere the sale includes works by the likes of Diane Arbus, Peter Beard, Cindy Sherman, Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, Sally Mann and Robert Maplethorpe.

Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks takes place in New York on February 25.

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