Avedon's Dovima with Elephants tops Christie's at $266,500

Richard Avedon's celebrated work Dovima with Elephants led Christie's auction in New York yesterday (October 4).

The sale was devoted to Avedon's stunning photographs and featured some of the rarest and most sought after prints from the artist's oeuvre. Dovima with Elephants, which is perhaps Avedon's most celebrated work, shared the top spot of the auction with his portrayal of Brigitte Bardot, both of which achieved $266,500.

While Dovima with Elephants sat comfortably within its $200,000-300,000 estimate, Brigitte Bardot soared past its valuation of $100,000-150,000, achieving a 77.6% increase on estimate.

Richard Avedon Domina with Elephants
Dovima is wearing the first dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent

Dovima with Elephants was first published in the September 1955 issue of Harper's Bazaar and set a new standard for fashion photography upon its release. The dress Dovima is wearing in the photograph was the first designed by Christian Dior's newest assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, and the shot is renowned for its stark juxtaposition of the supermodel's soft gown against the rough texture of the elephant's skin.

According to Christie's, the example at auction is preceded by just a few other prints, most notably the original engraver's print used for Harper's Bazaar and another which is held in the Smithsonian.

Avedon's 1959 portrayal of Brigitte Bardot is noted for its focus, featuring just the model's face rather than her body. One of the most famous sex symbols of the 1960s, Avedon's photograph shows her as an elegant beauty, double-exposing her hair to further highlight its importance to her iconic look.

Richard Avedon Brigitte Bardot
The print is numbered 12 in an edition of 35

Also featuring in the sale was Avedon's brilliant portfolio The Family, which sold for $206,500 against a $150,000-250,000 estimate. Learn more about the portfolio with our preview of the sale.

Also selling yesterday, at another New York auction, was Avedon's photograph of Bob Dylan, which made $24,000.

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