Last year Swann Galleries saw 95 records and first appearances across 31 sales with some of our departments even breaking their own records. Treasures ranging from previously unknown works to never-before-seen prints went to institutions, collectors and dealers alike.
Faith Ringgold, Maya’s Quilt of Life, acrylic on canvas, fabric, 1989. Sold September 15, 2015 for $461,000, an auction record for the artist.
We started the 2015-16 auction season on a high note by handling The Art Collection of Maya Angelou on September 15, 2015. The auction totaled over one million dollars, and sold 98%. The top lot was Maya’s Quilt of Life, 1989, a vibrant story quilt by Faith Ringgold, commissioned by Oprah for Dr. Angelou on her birthday. The quilt brought in $461,000, nearly doubling the high estimate of $250,000.
Norman Lewis, Untitled, oil on canvas, circa 1958. Sold December 15, 2015 for an auction record of $965,000.
The sale was handled by our African-American Fine Art department, the only one of its kind in the United States since its inception in 2006. The department is doing groundbreaking work to push auction prices and raise awareness of previously unknown or under-acknowledged African American artists from the 19th century to today. This year they set 17 records and first appearances at auction with artists such as John Biggers, Frank Bowling, Melvin Edwards and Barkley L. Hendricks. Norman Lewis’s Untitled, circa 1958, topped sales for the entire year, selling for $965,000 on December 15, 2015.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, first edition of Sir William Davenant’s adaptation, London, 1674. Sold April 12, 2016 for $30,000.
On October 27, 2015, the Early Printed Books department set the record for the highest price paid for a first edition of Sir William Davenport’s 1674 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth at $20,000, only to break that record six months later with another copy on April 12, 2016, at $30,000.
Egon Schiele, Schlafender Mann, watercolor, pencil and black crayon, 1910. Sold September 24, 2015 for $905,000.
The Prints & Drawings department bookended the season with astounding sales. On September 24, 2015, a moody Egon Schiele watercolor, Schlafender Mann, sold for $905,000 in the 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings sale. On June 9, 2016, in the department’s specialized sale of American Art, Sanford Robinson Gifford’s 1896 canvas, Study of the Parthenon, was purchased by an institution for $269,000. The department set high prices throughout the year for artists such as Albrecht Dürer, M. C. Escher, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt van Rijn.
William Faden, The North American Atlas, 42 engraved maps on 48 sheets, 1777. Sold December 8, 2015 for $341,000, an auction record.
Two standout atlases passed under the hammer of our Maps & Atlases department: the department’s top lot was William Faden’s 1777 The North American Atlas, showing detailed battle plans from the Revolutionary War. With 42 maps, it is one of the most complete examples of the atlas, and sold for $341,000 on December 8, 2015. William Faden made a General Atlas in 1796, believed to have inspired another grand coup by the department, Mahmud Raif Efendi’sCedid atlas tercümesi,1803 or 1804, a collection of 25 hand-colored maps that sold May 26, 2016 for $118,750. This was only the twelfth recorded complete example of what may be the first folio world atlas published in the Muslim world. According to our records, this atlas had never before been offered at auction.
Mahmud Raif Efendi, Cedid atlas tercümesi, 25 hand-colored maps, 1803 or 1804. Sold May 26, 2016 for $118,750.
Our Printed & Manuscript Americana department’s biggest sale was a previously unknown seventh edition of The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New-Testament, 1693, more commonly known as the Bay Psalm Book. The first edition of the Bay Psalm Book was the first book to be printed in what is now the United States. After a few editions, printing of the Bay Psalm returned to England, and was previously thought to have remained there until the eighth edition. This copy, apparently the first American edition after forty years of printing abroad, sheds new light on the history of this significant book. It sold for $221,000 on February 4, 2016.
A funky guide to speakeasies topped our annual sale of Printed & Manuscript African Americana: E. Simms Campbell’s A Night-Club Map of Harlem, pen and brush, 1932, sold March 31, 2016 for $100,000.
Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette, silver print, 1989. Sold October 15, 2015 for $215,000.
Netting over one million dollars in each of three auctions, our Photographs & Photobooks department saw outstanding sales by artists such as Richard Avedon, Dorothea Lange, Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz and Garry Winogrand. Of note were the October 15, 2015 sale of Sally Mann’s Candy Cigarette, silver print, 1989, for $215,000, and Ansel Adams’s masterpiece Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, silver print, 1941, which sold February 25, 2016 for $221,000. Daile Kaplan, Swann Galleries Vice President and Director of Photographs and Photobooks, said, “As the appeal of photographic imagery has grown, Contemporary Art and Poster collectors have contributed to strong results for both 19th- and 20th-century photographic prints and albums. Their participation underscores the growing cultural relevance of photography as a crossover art form, and demonstrates how exceptional historical images are drawing collectors from related fields.”
In our category of Illustration Arts on November 24, 2015, a Kelmscott Press 1896 edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer with 87 woodcut illustrations by Sir Edward Burne-Jones sold for $62,500, crowning the department’s lots for the season.
Shortly after, Howard Chandler Christy’s original 1941 study for the iconic I Am an American! billboard fetched $40,000 on January 28, 2016, an auction record for any drawing by the artist. The department offers favorites such as Charles Addams, Arthur Getz, Edward Gorey and Al Hirschfeld. Following its winter success, we will be adding a fall auction to their roster.
Howard Chandler Christy, I Am an American!, charcoal and pastel on board, 1941. Sold January 28, 2016 for $40,000, an auction record for any drawing by the artist.
The growing Contemporary Art department is already handling blockbuster artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Alex Katz, Sol LeWitt, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly, James Turrell and Andy Warhol, and setting records. A screenprint by Roy Lichtenstein claimed the top lot this year: Sweet Dreams, Baby!, 1965, sold May 12, 2016 for $125,000.
Roy Lichtenstein, Sweet Dreams, Baby!, color screenprint, 1965. Sold May 12, 2016 for $125,000.
John D. Larson, our 19th & 20th Century Literature Specialist, handled the Lawrence M. Solomon Collection on November 10, 2015. The sale was rife with rare titles, many of which had never previously been seen at auction. One of these was a first edition of From the Earth to the Moon, 1869, by Jules Verne, which sold for $22,500. Other records included the first English edition of Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte-Cristo, 1846, at $47,500, and the first printing of the first American edition of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, 1911, for $35,000. Another sale from the department on May 18, 2016, saw an auction record for Feodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novel Crime and Punishment, first American edition, 1886. The book brought $11,875.
Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera, first American edition, first printing, in first issue variant dust jacket, New York, 1911. Sold November 10, 2016 for $35,000.
The first Graphic Design sale from the Vintage Posters department topped their lots for the year, selling an Adolphe Mouron Cassandre design, Champions du Monde, 1965, for $75,000 on May 10, 2016.
Anne and Margot Frank’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Aus Grimms Märchen), signed and inscribed by Anne Frank, with Margot Frank’s ink owner stamp, Vienna, 1925, inscription Amsterdam, circa 1940. Sold May 5, 2016 for $62,500.
The Autographs department had the honor of offering the first major piece of Anne Frank material to come to auction in over 20 years. Anne wrote her and her sister Margot’s name in their copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales(Aus Grimms Märchen), and left it behind in a building in Amsterdam before the family was forced into hiding. The book was purchased on May 6, 2016, by the Museum of World War II in Massachusetts. The director of the museum, Kenneth Rendell, said, “From an educational standpoint, the book is a fabulous addition to the museum, which already has one of the best Holocaust collections. This is a piece that will add significantly to the experience of the museum.”
The 2016-17 season at Swann will host strong players in every category, including a rare Albrecht Dürer chiaroscuro print, rediscovered drawings by Dr. Seuss, Beatles memorabilia, and important private collections: mountaineering literature and Californiana; prints by Camille Pissarro; and Art Nouveau posters by Alphonse Mucha and his circle.