Swann to Present Focus on Women July 15

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Material Related to Trailblazing Figures Working Across Industries Will Feature Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Bourke-White, Elizabeth Catlett, Ruth Bader Ginsburg & More

Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, circa 1930. Estimate $6,000 to $8,000.
Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, circa 1930. Estimate $6,000 to $8,000.

New York—Swann Galleries will present Focus on Women, a sale dedicated to the important contributions of those in the community who identify as women working in the fields of activism, art and design, community, education, entertainment, health and wellness, science and innovation, sport, and work. The sale is curated by Swann senior specialist of early printed books Devon Eastland and will be held on Thursday, July 15. The auction will feature first editions, manuscript material, archives, and works on paper by historically significant poets, novelists, scientists, journalists, photographers, playwrights, performers and more from before 1800 through the contemporary era. As collectors and institutions turn their focus to the important contributions of women, Swann is pleased to offer their work at auction.

Leading the sale is an archive of fifteen silver prints by Jessie Tarbox Beals mostly taken in Santa Barbara and Hollywood, California, circa 1930, of gardens, stately homes and landmarks ($6,000-8,000). Beals was the first published American female photojournalist, as well as the first female night photographer. She moved to California in 1928 where her images of Southern-California estates and gardens, much like those on offer, found popularity with magazine publishers leading to her success. 

Further photographers of note include Margaret Bourke-White, one of the most iconic photojournalists of the twentieth century working with Fortune and Life Magazine, with Silver, a circa-1930 warm-toned silver print ($3,000-4,500). Among her numerous achievements, Bourke-White was the first foreign photographer to photograph the industry of Soviet Russia and the first woman to accompany pilots on bombing missions in WWII. A selection of images by Ruth Orkin will be also featured in the sale, alongside photographs by Berenice Abbott, Gertrude Kásebier, Doris Ulmann and more. Additional fine art features works by Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Catlett, Loïs Mailou Jones, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson and others.

Letters and archives include more than 375 individual pieces from 1882 to 1899 relating to Rosa Smith Eigenmann, who is considered the first woman ichthyologist in the United States ($5,000-7,000); an offering of 21 letters from during the 1840s by Jane Russell written during a Whaling Voyage from Hawaii and other ports ($3,000-5,000); a small collection of letters and other correspondence of dance pioneer Katherine Dunham, 1948–57 ($4,000-6,000); and an archive of photos and papers of Jean Bonnie Gray, National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee and trick rider ($700-900), among others including a dissenting opinion cover sheet signed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg ($600-900).

Guild of Women Binders, exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s Henry VIII, London, 1902. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.
Guild of Women Binders, exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s Henry VIII, London, 1902. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.

Among the book highlights is a run of early printed works including an exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s Henry VIII, London, 1902, by the Guild of Women Binders ($5,000-7,500); Fama, y Orbras Posthumas del Fenix de Mexico, Decima Musa, Poetista Americana, Madrid, 1700 ($4,000-6,000); Opus Preclarum ad Praxim Non Mediocriter Necessarium, Lyon, 1525, by Antionio Guainerio ($2,000-2,600); and The Gallery of Heroick Women, London, 1652, by Pierre Le Moyne ($2,000-3,000). Literature includes works by Louisa May Alcott and Virginia Woolf among others.

Portraits of famous figures who were trailblazers in their field—Susan B. Anthony ($1,200-1,800), Amelia Earhart ($2,000-2,500), Billie Holiday ($1,800-2,200), Eleanor Roosevelt ($200-300), Anna May Wong ($1,200-1,800) and more—are offered alongside ephemera relating to Vassar College ($2,500-3,500), a 1895 pamphlet for the business and professional women of Leadville, CO ($800-1,200), vernacular photographs of  the woman’s college of Baltimore ($700-900), and the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor during World War II ($400-600).

Limited open exhibition hours will be available through July 14. Appointments are strongly encouraged. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with a specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.


Lot 72: Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, circa 1930. Estimate $6,000 to $8,000.

Lot 128: Guild of Women Binders, exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s Henry VIII, London, 1902. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.

Auction date: Thursday, July 15, at 12:00 pm

Specialist: Devon Eastland • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 18

CMO: Alexandra Nelson • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 19

Public Relations Associate: Kelsie Jankowski • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 23

Social media: @swanngalleries  

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Swann Auction Galleries is a third-generation family business as well as the world’s largest auction house for works on paper. In the last 75 years, Swann has repeatedly revolutionized the trade with such innovations as the first U.S. auction dedicated to photographs and the world’s only department of African-American Fine Art. More than 30 auctions and previews are held annually in Swann Galleries’ two-floor exhibition space in Midtown Manhattan, and online worldwide. Visit swanngalleries.com for more information.

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