In an introduction to the catalogue for our January 30 sale of African-American Art from the Johnson Publishing Company, Nigel Freeman, director of Swann’s African-American Fine Art department, touches on the legacy of the publishing house, their art collection and Johnson Publishing Co.’s impact on African-American culture.
With the 2020 auction season on the horizon, we sat down with the newest addition to our books and manuscripts department, Devon Eastland, senior specialist for early printed books, to discuss all things books and material culture.
The 2010s brought Swann a number of notable moments including memorable sales, the establishment of two new departments, and the celebration of the 75th anniversary of our first sale. Here we take a look at some of favorite highlights from the last ten years.
Swann Galleries closed out the decade with a marathon sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Tuesday, December 17. The auction brought $910,087 and saw a 93% sell-through rate. Highlights included rare cartographic publications from Hawaii, atlases from across the globe and historic prints.
Founded by Nathaniel Currier in 1835, Currier & Ives was the major poster firm of the nineteenth century. James Merritt Ives joined Currier in 1857, and the two produced some of the most popular images of the period through 1907—with the bulk of their work being done in the 1860s. Together they published thousands of prints, in three folio sizes (small, medium and large) of scenes that are still sought by collectors today.
Swann Galleries’ sale of Illustration Art on Tuesday, December 10 featured an array of original works, from well-known characters of children’s literature to striking New Yorker covers and theater designs. The auction was a success, with seven of the top 20 lots ultimately acquired by institutions.
We welcome a new decade with 100 fine artworks from the collection of the Johnson Publishing Company, a great institution of American publishing and an icon of African-American culture. The sale will feature paintings, sculpture and works on paper from diverse periods, with 75 artists featured,
Our fall 2019 sale of Illustration Art on December 10 features a superb selection of artwork by women, whose contribution to the field is only just beginning to receive the recognition it deserves. Here Laura Polucha, the cataloguer for our Illustration Art department, touches on the highlights from the offering including story illustrations, advertisements and cartoons.
Sheila Gibson Stoodley, author of The Hot Bid, spoke with our Illustration Art Directors, Christine von der Linn about a special 1973 Charles Addams cartoon published in The New Yorker at auction December 10 in our Illustration Art sale.
“After twenty years of conducting auctions of Rare and Important Travel Posters it was validating to see the sale turn in the best results in the last three years,” noted Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann Galleries’ President and Director of Vintage Posters. The Thursday, November 14 auction saw a 75% sell-through rate, an “industry-leading number as no other poster sales come close to this level of success,” continued Lowry, as well as bringing ten new records for artists and images alike.
This fun and wide-ranging Illustration Art auction offers an early images by Dr. Seuss, as well as a selection of illustration by Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, Ludwig Bemelmans, Saul Steinberg, Georges Lepape, H.A. Rey and Charles Dana Gibson.
Swann Galleries’ November 14 sale of Rare & Important Travel Posters marks the house’s twentieth annual sale in the category. Here we share Nicholas D. Lowry’s entry to the catalogue, in which he reflects on the history and impact of the sale.
With an offering from the past five centuries, our October 29, 2019 sale of Old Master Through Modern Prints brought collectors exceptional works from key artists and included Rembrandt etchings from the John Villarino Collection.
Interesting items for all collectors feature in the sale with botanical and historic prints, plates by John James Audubon, Hawaiian and Japanese imprints, atlases and maps of nearly any destination you can think of.
Our Thursday, October 24 sale of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books saw a full auction room and active bidding on the internet and phones with a particular interest in publications by scientists, as well as incunabula, bibles and manuscript publications.
Who builds a statue of a young man with locks, perched on a horse ready to ride into the ranks of Confederate statues in Virginia? Kehinde Wiley does. Who let this dude into the building? Who turned him loose on the rest of us, asking “Why not?” then answering himself with art that breaks molds, blending, for example, British Romanticism with urban power.
Swann’s Thursday, October 17 sale of Classic & Contemporary Photographs featured a broad range of photographic material including works by Edward S. Curtis, Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange and W. Eugene Smith.
Born in London in 1606, John Bulwer was an important figure in the study of deafness, gesture and the human body and a pioneer the education of the deaf in England. He published five works on the subject before his death in 1656. Set to come across the block are three first editions of Bulwer’s publications.
Anchoring this auction is a special selection of works by women of the New York Abstract Expressionist school, notably Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner, in a timely celebration of the era and their overlooked contributions to the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence.
We brought forth a remarkable offering of autographs, art, press and illustrated books, as well as nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, in a Thursday, October 10 sale of Fine Books & Manuscripts.
Our twentieth anniversary Travel Poster sale can be summed up in one powerful, romantic word: trains. An extraordinary private collection of American railway posters, the best we’ve ever seen, includes a virtual history from the early years of the New York Central Lines to the Streamliner trains of the 1930s and 40s.
Amid a backdrop of highlights from the Johnson Publishing Company’s incredible art collection—the majority of which hung in the offices of the company’s historic Chicago headquarters—we will sit down with fashion commentator Audrey Smaltz.
Bibliophiles of every denomination—Americana, autographs, art books, archives, atlases, ephemera, literature, maps—can find their niche at Swann Galleries. Originally founded in New York as a book auction house, we hold regular specialized sales devoted to books, printed material and manuscripts.
New York was waiting for Aaron Douglas, though no one knew just how much, including the artist himself. By the time he arrived in 1925 he had no idea what was waiting, not the lifetime of work and certainly not the eventual reputation as the Harlem Renaissance’s father of African-American art.
Old Master works include early tour-de-force impressions by Francisco José de Goya, Albrecht Dürer, Pieter Bruegel, Antonio da Canal, Il Canaletto and Giovanni B. Piranesi. Further highlights in the art of printmaking from the nineteenth through the twentieth century include works by European and American masters Thomas Hart Benton, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Martin Lewis and Henri Matisse.
Our October 17 sale of Classic & Contemporary Photographs features an impressive selection of portraiture from the last two centuries. The most significant is Irving Penn’s 1960, printed 1978, platinum-palladium print, Cuzco Children. Here Daile Kaplan, the house’s Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks, touches on Penn’s practice and the making of the image.
This auction traces the development of draftsmanship over several centuries from late-Gothic, early-Renaissance works of the fifteenth century, to Baroque and Rococo drawings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Born in 1929, Vincent D. Smith was a Brooklyn native and innovative African-American artist. By the late 1950s, he incorporated various modern approaches into his figurative painting practice, including expressionism, collage, politically- and socially-conscious subject matter.
Describing himself as a “Rural Modernist,” McArthur Binion is known for his paintings that encapsulate both simplicity and complexity. Our Fall 2019 sale of African-American Fine Art on October 8 features a stunning mid-career work by Binion that captures his laborious technique and beckons the viewer in for a closer look.
Swann Galleries opened the fall 2019 season with an exceptional sale of 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings featuring an auction debut for a rare early print by Martin Lewis and a record price for a print by Edvard Munch.
An extensive and detailed record of the Underground Railroad is set to come across the block in our upcoming sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana on September 26. Zachariah Taylor Shugart was a known agent of the Underground Railroad circa 1840-51.
A choice selection of incunabula brings to auction infrequently seen editions of Johannes Jacobus Canis’s 1476 guide to the study of civil and canon law; Albertus Magnus’s comprehensive lapidary De mineralibus, Pavia, 1491; and Philippus Beroaldus’s philosophical tract on happiness, De felicitate opusculum, Bologna, 1495.
Swann Galleries’ sale of 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings on September 19 features property from Betty and Douglas Duffy, of the Bethesda Art Gallery and highlights American printmakers such as Howard Cook, Thomas Hart Benton, Rockwell Kent and John Sloan.
With a proclivity to the grim, grisly and gruesome, Charles Addams walked through life illuminating its incongruous funny bones and sore spots. Here we discuss his contributions to The New Yorker and his famous kooky family.
Before being moved to its permanent home at the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections, a choice selection of works from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry—the most comprehensive collection of its kind—will be offered at Swann Galleries on October 10.
Norman Lewis was an Abstract Expressionist painter associated with The Irascibles who developed as a painter as the New York Modern Art scene grew. Here we discuss Lewis’s rise from the margins to art market center.
Featured photographers include: Walead Beshty, John Divola, Seydou Keïta, Richard Misrach, Vik Muniz, Andres Serrano and Joel Sternfeld. A headliner among the rare photobook offerings is a 1950s–1972 Edward Ruscha archive featuring a signed first edition of his Twentysix Gasoline Stations—as well as other signed artist’s books, a signed lithograph Have a Soup Souper Season, ephemeral material, and a Polaroid.
Remarkable firsts in unrestored dust jackets by Barnaby Ross, Owen Wister, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, plus well-loved titles by Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Kurt Vonnegut Vonnegut comprise this fall 2019 selection of literature.