Alvin Langdon Coburn's Shadows and Reflections, Venice has sold at the top of Sotheby's 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation.
The auction was held on December 11-12, offering one of the most important collections of photographs in private hands. In total, the works brought in $21.3m, with Coburn's piece making a 93% increase on its $500,000 high estimate to sell for $965,000.
Created in 1905, Shadows and Reflections combines two print processes in separate exposures, one in gum, one in platinum, giving the photo a great sense of depth and tonality. It is described by Sotheby's as "daringly abstract for its time".
Financier and philanthrophist Howard Stein (1926-2011), a renowned collector who has traced the history of photography with his purchases, compiled the collection. It was later donated to the Joy of Giving Something Inc, a foundation started by Stein that aims to further the photographic arts and education.
Also selling with stunning results was Alfred Stieglitz's Evening, New York from the Shelton, which was estimated at $200,000-300,000 but soared to $929,000.
The auction was marked by strong bidding, with collectors keen to celebrate Stein's collecting life and support his ongoing philanthropy.
Gustave Le Gray's The Pont de Carroussel seen from the Pont Royal made $773,000 against a $250,000 high estimate. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's Photogram with Pinwheel and Other Shapes made an identical sum against a $500,000 high estimate.
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