Swann Auction Galleries

104 East 25th Street, New York, New York 10010

About Auction House

Swann was founded in 1941 as an auction house specializing in Rare and Antiquarian Books and is now the largest specialist auctioneer of Works on Paper in the world. Swann conducts approximately 40 sales a year, with departments devoted to Books, Autographs, Maps & Atlases, Photographs & Photobooks, Prints & Drawings, Vintage Posters, African-American Fine Art and Illustration Art. On March 27, 2017, Swann celebrated 75 years of auctions.

Auction Previews & News

147 Results
  • Auction Preview
    Illustration Art by Arnold Roth, Will Eisner, and David Levine Available at Swann Auction Galleries

    Material from the collection of American cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer will be available in Swann Auction Galleries’ upcoming Illustration Art auction. Among the top lots is a 1946 Ink and watercolor by American cartoonist and illustrator Arnold Roth. Roth specializes in humorous illustrations and cartoons, with his work appearing in most major magazines since 1951. A unique quality of Roth's illustrations is his mastery of exaggeration. His exaggeration is subtle, creating a new context that is easy to accept. The offered piece features Roth’s signature in the lower left corner and the inscription "For Jules, that top drawer fellow.... From his friend and admirer, Arnold Roth." Another key lot in the sale is a cover art for The Spirit by Will Eisner, a pioneer of the American comic book medium. The Spirit is Eisner's signature comic, a detective storybook with innovative, intriguing plots and great visuals. Each week, Eisner used various storytelling techniques that influenced later comic artists.  Additional artworks of note in the catalog include a 1981 caricature illustration by David Levine depicting Jules Feiffer with a cigar. David Levine is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most influential and talented caricaturists. As a revivalist of the 19th-century tradition, the artist was often compared to Honoré Daumier in his portrayals of American politics. Bidders can also consider George Fort Gibbs’s painting for the Bell Telephone Company postcard and an illustration work by Dean Cornwell titled Crucifixion on the Battlefield. Visit Swann Auction Galleries’s website for more information on this Illustration Art sale and to register to bid.  

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    Swann Auction Galleries Will Offer Manuscript Map on Vellum of Dutch East India Company Colonies

    Swann Auction Galleries will offer a manuscript map on vellum showing the closely held trading routes and ports in the Dutch East India Company colonies that now form Indonesia. The manuscript is a leading lot in the upcoming Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books sale. This chart is a well-preserved, rare artifact from an early Asia trade concern, the Dutch East India Company, or VOC. Swann Galleries records show this will be the first appearance of a VOC manuscript of this caliber at auction since the early 1990s. The area depicted constitutes Dutch navigation out of Batavia (now Jakarta) and the areas that would have immediately fed into that central port. The mind behind the map was Isaak de Graaf (1668 - 1743), the official cartographer of the VOC during the first half of the 18th century. The 1743 date would make it one of the last charts produced by de Graaf, who died in September of that year.  Also available is Robert John Thornton’s A New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnæus. Thornton (1768 - 1837) was an English physician and botanical writer. This color plate catalog features 12 engraved calligraphic part titles, dedications, and contents leaves from the book. It also comes with ten uncolored engraved tables and plates, including portraits of Thornton, Queen Charlotte, and Thomas Millington, and two portrait plates of Linnaeus. They are all stipple-engraved plates of classical allegory printed in colors and finished by hand with watermarks of "J.Whatman," "E&P," and "J.Ruse." A large engraved map of Belgium and the Netherlands zoomorphically styled as a formidable lion "Leo Belgicus” or the Belgian Lion by renowned Dutch engraver Claes Janszoon Visscher is also available in the auction. View the complete Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books catalog and register to bid by visiting Swann Auction Galleries. 

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    Modern and Contemporary Art by Stanley W. Hayter, Adolph Gottlieb, and Lynne Drexler Available at Swann Auction Galleries

    A 1953 color engraving by British artist Stanley W. Hayter, titled Warriors, leads Swann Auction Galleries’ upcoming Contemporary Art sale. A Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist, Hayter was fascinated by the tensions within human forms. The offered piece has a gestural engraving throughout the surreal composition, along with soft-ground etching with subtle patterns and directions produced by delicate fabrics. By gouging the plate with a scorper, Hayter created three-dimensional white areas without printing. Stencils and rollers were used for applying the color. This artwork features the artist’s signature in pencil along the lower right. Another notable fine artwork is a 1967 color screenprint by Adolph Gottlieb titled Signs. In Gottlieb's work, gestural painting has a strong presence but is simultaneously calm and contemplative. Despite appearing as Expressionist compositions, the artist's signature forms often display primitive influences based on circles, bursts, and labyrinths. Signs is dominated by rich yellow saturation.  Additional artworks of note in the catalog include an oil on canvas painting by American painter Lynne Drexler, titled Bluescape. The artist is best known for her portrayals of landscapes in the style of Abstract Expressionism and Post-Impressionism. Drexler's paintings are characterized by dense layers of small, repeated brushstrokes in vibrant colors. Bidders can also consider Dorothy Dehner’s engraving, titled River Landscape #4, and Mary Abbott’s color pastel work, titled Patience. Visit Swann Auction Galleries for more information on the upcoming Contemporary Art auction and to register to bid.

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    Early Sculptures by John Chamberlain and Fritz Koenig Lead Swann’s Modern & Post-War Art Sale

    The upcoming Modern & Post-War Art sale from Swann Auction Galleries particularly highlights American Surrealist works from the collection of Philip J. and Suzanne Schiller, as well as modern sculpture. Leading the sale is an untitled steel rod sculpture by American artist John Chamberlain. He turned to art after serving in the US Navy in the 1940s and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1950s. Inspired by the Abstract Expressionist movement, Chamberlain favored raw metal and industrial materials for his works. The offered sculpture dates from this early period of Chamberlain’s career. Its steel rods are twisted in geometric shapes that emphasize the sculpture’s airiness and negative space. Another notable sculpture in the catalog is Fritz Koenig’s Quadriga, a bronze work from 1959.  Among visual artworks in the catalog, a street scene by Max Ernst is notable. Saint Satyre, Priez pour nous (Saint Satyr, Pray for us) is a pencil, gouache, and watercolor collage on illustration board. City buildings are layered on top of each other, accented by striped awnings and line shading. On the right side of the composition, a caricatured Black face appears over a window. Ernst, a German artist associated with the Dada and Surrealist movements, explored irrationality in his work after facing the horrors of World War I. Other key post-war artworks in the catalog include Edith Schloss’ Untitled (West Window, Red Cup), James Daugherty’s The Sun is but a Morning Star, and Janice Biala’s Untitled (Interior with Blue Kettle). To browse the complete Modern & Post-War Art catalog and register to bid, visit Swann Auction Galleries. 

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    Largest Collection of Tennis Posters by Roger Borders, Edward Penfield, Hans Rudi Erdt & More Offered by Swann Auction Galleries

    The upcoming Tennis & Sports Posters sale by Swann Auction Galleries will offer a collection from the Schwartz family and Tennis Corporation of America. The sale opens with a poster of The Monte-Carlo Country Club by Roger Borders (French, 1883 - 1953). The poster, titled Monte•Carlo, was printed in 1930. The poster depicts the audience’s viewpoint of the tennis court overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Monte-Carlo Country Club has twenty-one tennis courts overlooking the water. Its inauguration event in 1928 was attended by members of European royal families. Borders emphasizes the glamorous members of the club and its exquisite setting to create one of his best-known posters. His handling of shadows and the bright Riviera sun is masterful, crowned by the slivers of yellow sunlight that silhouette some of the figures.  Another notable poster in the sale is the Western Lawn Tennis Tournament poster by Edward Penfield (1866 - 1925) of the Kenwood Country Club in Maryland. The Kenwood Country Club was founded in 1894 by Marshall Field, the department store magnate. The club opened just one year later on a 20-acre plot of land comprising 12 courts, both clay and lawn. In 1896, it hosted the prominent eight-day-long National Tennis Tournament. Printed in 1896, this is one of Penfield's most impressive posters depicting fashion, architecture, perspective, and sport.  It is likely the first American tennis poster promoting a tournament. The sale will also offer the largest collection of tennis posters ever to hit the market, in addition to works by Alfred Runge, Eduard Stiefel, Leon Dupin, Hans Rudi Erdt, and Frank Newbould. View the complete catalog and register to bid in the Tennis & Sports Posters: Collection of the Schwartz Family & Tennis Corporation of America sale by visiting Swann Auction Galleries. 

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    Significant Mid-Career Painting by Hughie Lee-Smith and Contemporary Art to Benefit the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to Sell With Swann Auction Galleries

    Ball Player is a significant, mid-career painting by Hughie Lee-Smith, and it leads the upcoming African American Art auction, presented by Swann Auction Galleries. This oil on linen canvas was painted in 1970 and depicts a youth playing handball in a particularly desolate urban space. Lee-Smith effectively created a new type of American landscape - an existential urban space in which the Black figure was the protagonist. His protagonists stood out in figure paintings in a social-realist surrounding. Lee-Smith often portrayed youth playing or improvising games, from balancing sticks and tires to flying kites and playing ball games. This painting depicts an essential aspect of his oeuvre, where the subject finds moments of pleasure and escape despite their environs.  Also available is a glazed terracotta vessel, an early sculpture made by Simone Leigh in the 1990s. Simone Leigh's water pot sculptures reference traditional forms from Africa and the diaspora. Her interests in African and Black American art manifested in these robust vessels 30 years ago. Chronicling an early period of Simone Leigh's life, Calvin Tomkins of The New Yorker describes the critical development of Leigh as a young artist. Leigh's early practice was focused on these traditional forms. Leigh told Tomkins: “For ten years, I was obsessed with these water pots. It was a kind of a perfect form, and it was something women had been making all over the world for centuries, this anonymous labor of women.” Leigh continued this practice, calling it “important work” despite struggling to get the attention of either the pottery or art worlds in the 1990s. The upcoming auction will feature contemporary art to be sold to benefit the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation from works donated by Derrick Adams, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and more. Visit Swann Auction Gallery to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming African American Art sale. 

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    Portraits of Truth, Douglass, Phillips, Garrison Alongside “The Green Book” Travel Guide Lead Upcoming African Americana Auction

    "I don't get enough to eat. Please send me something to eat," was written by an enslaved man leased to the Confederacy. During this period, Hyde Park was owned by the Fowlkes family. Some of the people enslaved by the Fowlkes family were requisitioned by the Confederate government during the American Civil War. They sent home these letters (likely by dictation), which were then kept as family papers titled "Ages of Slaves" by the Hyde Park plantation owners of Virginia. The upcoming Printed & Manuscript African Americana sale from Swann Auction Galleries presents these records in a single lot, which contains five volumes plus 46 other items in one box dated 1794 to 1936. The strongest impression from these letters is that the enslaved people were being starved. Also included are several loose papers documenting the family's slavery transactions. Another notable lot in this sale is The Negro Travelers' Green Book. The cover of this edition states "Carry your Green Book with you . . . You may need it!" It was presumably offered for sale at gas stations or bookstores. The copy offered in the sale was printed as a special promotional giveaway by the Esso Standard Oil Company, which was known for its educational work in the community, an integrated classroom at the Esso Training Center, and a Black-owned Esso filling station in Buffalo, NY. This book was considered an indispensable travel guide for Black families. It was published at a time when long-distance travel could be dangerous for them due to Jim Crow laws and racial hostility. Friendly service stations, hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants are arranged by state across the country in the book. The last Green Book was printed in 1966. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to find the listed items and register to place a bid in the Printed & Manuscript African Americana sale.

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    Famous Finnish Automobile Advertisement by Akseli Gallen-Kallela Leads Vintage Posters & Graphic Design Auction by Swann Auction Galleries

    An edition of one of the most famous Finnish advertisements, titled Bil-Bol, is coming to auction with Swann Auction Galleries. The title Bil-Bol in Swedish translates as "car company." It is a poster created in 1907 by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865 - 1931) for an automobile retailer. This poster will lead the upcoming Vintage Posters & Graphic Design Auction. The artist behind the famous image was Akseli Gallen-Kallela, a Finnish painter considered an essential aspect of the Finnish national identity. He is best known for his illustrations of the Finnish national epic Kalevala. The most likely person to have commissioned the poster was Swedish Baron Carl Cederström. He founded Sweden's first car company (and taxi service) in Stockholm, Bil-Aktibolaget, whose name was trademarked as Bil-Bol. Furthermore, he exhibited his cars in Stockholm's May 1907 car exposition.  On the cover of issue one of L'Estampe Originale, Jane Avril stands in the Ancourt & Cie. printing shop, while the printer is hard at work behind her. L'Estampe Originale was a French periodical of original prints, containing prints by a distinguished group of artists like Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The subject on the cover issue is dancer Jane Avril, one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s muses. Lautrec (1864 - 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, caricaturist, and illustrator. His most famous works are depictions of the Moulin Rouge and its patrons. He immersed himself in the colorful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century. He produced provocative images where the subjects have personalities and are diversely true to their nature. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to find the listed items and register to place a bid. 

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    David Wojnarowicz Stencil Work, Christopher Wool’s My House III in Swann Auction Galleries’ Upcoming Sale

    American artist David Wojnarowicz was famous for his paintings, books, and photography skills. Wojnarowicz (1954 - 1992), was one of the most prominent figures in the New York City art world of the 1980s. He was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, where he spent much of his childhood. Largely self-taught, the artist adopted various techniques and was influenced by Surrealism, science fiction, comic strips, and mass advertising. An untitled artwork by Wojnarowicz is one of the key highlights of this upcoming auction from Swann Auction Galleries. This stencil and spray paint on newsprint work shows a burning house with a camouflage plane. It comes with a pencil drawing of a seated male. My House III, a noteworthy color screenprint on matte custom art paper by Christopher Wool, also leads the catalog. This piece is signed, dated, and numbered 67/100 in pencil on the lower right. Wool was born in 1955 in Chicago and now lives and works in New York City and Marfa, Texas. The artist is known for his paintings of large, black, stenciled letters on white canvases. Wool uses spray painting, hand painting, and screen-printing to render his artworks. The auction also offers posters, records, photographs, fine art, autographs, books, and ephemera. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in The Subculture Sale. 

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    Unusual Artworks by Thomas Hart Benton and Claude Clark Highlight Swann Auction Galleries’ Upcoming Sale

    American artist Thomas Hart Benton was well known for his paintings, mural art, and printmaking skills. Leading the Regionalist art movement, Benton was associated with the Midwestern United States, which he called home for a significant part of his lifetime. He also traveled across the country, creating ink wash drawings and sketches of his observations. Three artworks by Benton are key highlights of the upcoming auction from Swann Auction Galleries. These include a rare lithograph titled Running Horses that portrays horses galloping alongside a steam engine. The artist often portrayed the animal as a main subject in his works.  Drafting, a noteworthy oil painting on thin board executed with a palette knife by Claude Clark, also leads the catalog. The American artist painted this unusual image of an Black American architect/student soon after enrolling at the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Arts. The printmaker and art educator explored the Black American diaspora through street life, landscapes, and dance scenes. Robert Gwathmey’s Flower Freshness is another key oil work in the auction. Gwathmey was famous for using such symbolic abstraction to convey his unique perspective. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming The Artists of the WPA sale. 

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    Monograph of Toucans by Illustrator John Gould Leads Swann’s Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books Sale

    John Gould was described as one of the greatest figures in bird illustration after John James Audubon in the book Birds of Great Britain. John Gould (British, 1804 - 1881) was a gardener employed under his father at Windsor before becoming an expert in taxidermy. He became the first curator and preserver at the Zoological Society of London in 1827. For natural history enthusiasts, Swann Auction Galleries is offering A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans by John Gould in its upcoming Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books sale. The monograph was published in London between 1834 and 1855 as a supplement to the first edition of two works bound in one. The works include an uncolored anatomical plate and 53 vividly hand-colored lithographed plates of tropical toucans by Edward Lear and Elizabeth Gould. Gould’s wife Elizabeth helped her husband color and finish most of the bird illustrations published under his name. Every sky with its varied tints and every feather of each bird was colored by hand. Among maps, a set of 24 engraved gores for Vincenzo Coronelli's 42-inch terrestrial globe is notable. Coronelli made them to construct the massive Gran Globi. The segments were made around 1688 to 1697 in Venice. Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650 - 1718) was an Italian Franciscan friar, cosmographer, cartographer, publisher, and encyclopedist who created hundreds of maps in his lifetime. His atlases and globes earned him the positions of Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice and Father General of the Franciscan order. View the full catalog of the Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books auction by visiting Swann Auction Galleries.

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    Paintings by Raymond Jonson and Esteban Vicente Pérez Lead Swann Auction Galleries’ Upcoming Sale

    Spanish American painter Esteban Vicente Pérez was a first generation New York School Abstract Expressionist. Having regularly visited the Prado Museum in childhood with his father, Vicente developed a great love for art. Harmony, an oil painting on canvas by the artist, is a key highlight of the upcoming auction from Swann Auction Galleries. It is a non-representational composition attained with bold, thickly painted impasto. The nebulous forms suspended in space are influenced by the likes of Velasquez and Goya. Three works by Raymond Jonson, including two landscapes, also lead the listings. Jonson painted September in Eldora when he visited the place with his wife in 1917. He had accomplished many of his plein air paintings then and also received his first solo exhibition opportunity at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Another noteworthy lot in the catalog comprises two paintings by Alfred Henry Maurer. One is a still life titled Croissants et Brioches, and the other is an untitled landscape. The Modernist painter’s works received recognition only after his death by suicide. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming Modern & Post-War Art sale.

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    Swann’s Contemporary Art Auction Features Sam Szafran, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Keith Haring Works

    The tiny spaces that Sam Szafran (1934 - 2019) occupied were his world, captured on canvas with thousands of details. A dizzying perspective of stairs captured in an untitled painting from 1980 by Szafran is leading the Contemporary Art auction from Swann Auction Galleries. It is a color pastel on board, signed by Szafran. He was a Jewish-Polish artist who grew up witnessing the disasters of World War II. As an artist, he preferred solitude, focusing on his own existence and inner states to give rise to his favorite themes like plants, staircases, and workshops in pastel and then watercolor. This artwork distorts and deconstructs the viewer's perspective. A crayon, pen and ink, and wash on card artwork, drawn in 1926 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 - 1938) is another highlight in the sale. As a self- trained artist, Kirchner founded the artists' group Die Brücke along with Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The group gave birth to German Expressionism. They made life-drawings from nude models in unselfconscious, informal poses in their communal studio, decorated with non-Western art and erotic images. They rejected academic art as stultifying and started originating works that were emotionally expressive, like the works of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch. Their art still resonates with the contemporary originality they held in the 1910s and 1920s. View the complete catalog of the Contemporary Art auction by visiting Swann Auction Galleries.

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    Rare Travel Posters Come to Sale With Swann Auction Galleries

    Pierre Fix-Masseau was a significant poster designer of the 20th century, spellbound by new technology and speed. Transport was his favorite theme; many of his works depicted trains, cars and ships. The upcoming auction presented by Swann Auction Galleries will feature Exactitude, one of Fix-Masseau’s most renowned posters. It portrays a train, which has just pulled into a station, with bold geometric lines, warm hues, and strident angles. The imposing image was originally a painting, later converted into a poster for a promotional campaign by the French State Railway. The work exemplifies Fix-Masseau’s artistic philosophy of using a universal language in a simple and direct manner. Another key highlight of the sale is Roger Broders’ Les Sports D'hiver / St Pierre De Chartreuse. The travel poster illustrates sleekly-dressed tourists at the Alpine resort of Perquelin gathered to watch a bobsled team in action. The crowd scene is executed by the artist in a skillful way. Emil Cardinaux’s Palace Hotel / St. Moritz, one of the two posters for the famous resort hotel, also leads the listings. Depicting lounging winter guests, it reflects the lifestyle of the hotel's clientele. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming Rare & Important Travel Posters sale.

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    Swann Auction Galleries to Offer Archive of Ford’s Theatre, Early Publications of the Continental Congress in Upcoming Auction

    This upcoming sale, presented by Swann Auction Galleries, reflects centuries of American Revolution and Civil War history with political proceedings, civil rights documents, historic newspapers, maps, and more. A key highlight is an archive of Ford's Theatre and the theatrical Ford family. This lot contains more than 3,500 items of various sizes and conditions collected in three boxes. Several scrapbooks, pictures, letters, artifacts, and ephemera are dated between 1849 and 1968. Also showcased in the auction is a manuscript diary that includes 21 pages of memoranda. This diary is a compilation of meetings with George Washington and John Hancock in the midst of the retreat from New York during the American Revolution.   Other notable lots include an archive on the surrender of a Confederate cavalry brigade in May of 1865, early publications of the Continental Congress, an early printing of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, and a complete run of The Gentleman’s Magazine from the period of the revolution. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming Printed & Manuscript Americana sale.