Lewis W Hine’s Mechanic at Steam Pump to sell in February

A print of Lewis W Hine’s Mechanic at Steam Pump, one of the defining images of the industrial age, is up for sale at Swann Auction Galleries.

The piece is set to headline the Icons & Images sale in New York on February 15.  

Hine (1874-1940) was a sociologist first and a photographer second. He was motivated primarily to improve conditions for working class Americans.

Hine Mechanic Steam

Lewis Hine's iconic photographs of factory workers changed the social landscape

In fact, his powerful documentary shots of child labourers in Carolina factories led directly to the passing of stricter laws in 1916.

The iconic shot offered in the upcoming sale was taken in Philadelphia in 1920.

The extraordinary composition is carefully posed, depicting a muscle-bound young man straining to turn a rivet with a large wrench.

Hine's goal with this series was to show the human side of America’s economic miracle.

The image would later inspire filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin and Fritz Lang, who would produce homages to it in Modern Times (1936) and Metropolis (1927) respectively. 

This print was produced by Hine himself in 1921 and carries an estimate of $70,000-100,000.

That’s likely to be a little on the low side. Another print of this photograph sold for $269,000 at Sotheby’s in 2014.

The sale will also feature Josef Sudek’s Gravestone of Rabbi Lowe, the Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.

This is a rare pigment print Sudek produced during the early 1930s.

These were made by hand, using brushes and various inks, and are among the most sought after items in Sudek’s catalogue.

This specimen is expected to make $25,000-35,000. 

We have a great selection of art and photography memorabilia for sale.

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