Brigitte Bardot captivates as lead entry in Chiswick’s 19th/20th Century Photographs Auction, November 30

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Terry O’Neill called 1971 photo of the alluring French actress ‘best shot’ of his career

LONDON – A famous image of French film star Brigitte Bardot taken by Terry O’Neill in 1971 leads the 19th and 20th Century Photographs Auction slated for November 30 at Chiswick Auctions. The silver gelatin print of Bardot on the set of Les Petroleuses, number 20 from an edition of 50, is expected to bring £10,000-£15,000 ($12,605-$18,905). 

This famous image of French actress Brigitte Bardot taken by Terry O'Neill in 1971 is expected to bring £10,000-£15,000 ($12,605-$18,905).
This famous image of French actress Brigitte Bardot taken by Terry O’Neill in 1971 is expected to bring £10,000-£15,000 ($12,605-$18,905).

Later in life, O’Neill (British, 1938-2019) reflected on what his called the “best shot” of his career. He related that he only had one shot left on his roll of film when he captured the image that would define his career as a master of the candid celebrity portrait.

“The wind was blowing, and she had a cigar as part of a scene. I was surrounded by hundreds of people, and was praying they didn’t move or jostle me, as I had this perfect composition. I just wanted the wind to blow once more – and it did. Then everyone started pushing and shoving and I lost the place – but I knew I had that frame. It was a picture in a million.” 

Two photographs by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) – aka Lewis Carroll – are included in the 19th century section, which opens the sale. Both albumen prints laid to card are of subjects the author called his “child friends” and were included in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 2002-’04 touring exhibition “Dreaming in Pictures, The Photography of Lewis Carroll.”

One of the portraits is dated May 1866 and portrays Ella Chlora Faithfull Bickersteth (1858-1954), the only daughter of Monier Monier-Williams, a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford, where Dodgson taught mathematics. Between May and July 1866, Dodgson took at least 14 photographs of the young Ella, including several of her wearing articles of New Zealand dress borrowed from the Ashmolean Museum. 

A titled and signed portrait of Emily “Emmie” Drury was taken by Dodgson in his rooftop studio at Christchurch, Oxford, on June 16, 1874. He recorded in his diary: “Mrs Drury bought her 3 girls, and Miss Sampson for the day. I photographed and fed them and treated them to the Horticultural Fete.” He had first met the three Drury sisters, with their mother, while on a train journey in 1869. Dodgson’s friendship with the children lasted for many years, and he gave them inscribed copies of his “Alice” books. Estimate: £800-£1,200 ($1,010-$1,510)

Of the approximately 3,000 photographs Charles Dodgson took in his life, just over half are of children. At the time, the camera was still a relatively new technology, and Dodgson as an early and capable enthusiast, found no shortage of friends who wanted him to make likenesses of their children. Since the 1930s, biographers and scholars have questioned Dodgson’s intentions when taking these pictures and the relationship he had with his young subjects.

Other 19th century lots in the sale include an album charting the naval tour of the future George V while he commanded the HMS Crescent in 1898. The last act to end the Duke of York’s active service afloat is documented through 50 silver gelatin prints that were taken by the ship’s Chief Petty Officer, Thomas M McGregor. Estimate: £800-£1,200 ($1,010-$1,510)

A rare group of albumen prints of Mecca, the Mahmal, and the Hajj dating from the 1880s are expected to bring £4,000-£6,000 ($5,040-$7,560). The 13 prints include named views by photographers such as Mohammad Sadiq Bey, Félix Bonfils (1831-1885), Constantine Zangaki (circa 1845-1916), and Pascal Sébah (1823-1886). 

Two views of Steep Hill in Bristol, England, taken in 1866 record a part of the city now long gone. As the caption reads, the medieval buildings and the road itself were demolished shortly after the pictures were taken by John Hill Morgan in 1871. This pair of platinum prints is from a limited run of 100 prints published in 1891 as a nostalgic view by Bristol-based art publishers and print sellers Frost & Reed. The duo is expected to sell for £400-£600 ($505-$755). 

Forty-one lots come from the private collection of Scottish film director Michael Caton-Jones. The striking Father and Son Watching A Parade, West End, Newcastle is one of defining images from the oeuvre of Chris Killip (1946-2020), who spent much of his career photographing the working class communities of Northern England in the 1970s and ’80s. This particular shot of a son on his father’s shoulders was taken with a big-plate camera in 1980 in a run-down part of Newcastle. It became famous through the artist’s 1988 book In Flagrante. Estimate: £3,000-£5,000 ($3,780-$6,300)

The same estimate is assigned to both Children at a Puppet Theatre by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995), number 125 from an edition of 250 issued in 1995; and a 1992 print of the classic Ernst Haas (1921-1986) image Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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