Sale: Photographs

Location: Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London W1. Tel: +44 (0)20 7447 7447

Date: November 16 On view on Sunday 11am-3pm; Monday 9am-430pm; Tuesday 9am-noon. Catalogue at

Need to know: The art world was agog back in 1999 when Gustave Le Gray’s atmospheric image “Grande Vague, Sète” fetched £507,500 at Sotheby’s in London to become the world’s most expensive photograph. Within eight years that record had been broken no fewer than six times, with Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cent II Diptychon” sold at Sotheby’s in February 2007 for £1.7m, and then Richard Prince’s “Untitled (Cowboy)” at $3.4m in New York in November 2007. But this Bonhams sale shows that a six- or seven-figure budget is not necessary to secure a first-class image by a known name. Among the 150 lots here are photographs by David Bailey, Sebastiao Salgado, Horst P Horst, Herb Ritts and Norman Parkinson, all at relatively affordable prices.

Highlights: The catalogue begins with a historically significant group of images by the artist, anthropologist and naturalist Peter Henry Emerson that depict the working life of labourers on the Norfolk Broads during the 1880s. The five platinum prints include “Reed Cutter at Work” (£3,000-£4,000) and “Gathering Water Lilies” (£10,000-£15,000), both of which were used to illustrate Emerson’s book, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads. A selection of 15 photographs by the French photographer Willy Ronis, whose images of postwar Paris and Provence have come to be recognised the world over, includes an aerial shot of a couple embracing on the Quai du Louvre (£1,800-£2,200) and the well-known “Le Nu Provençal, Gordes” that shows a young woman leaning over a washbasin in a typically rustic Provençal room (£3,000-£4,000). Other classic prints include Horst P Horst’s “The Mainbocher Corset” (£6,000-£8,000) and Sebastiao Salgado’s “Serra Pelada Gold Mine, Brazil” (£4,000-£6,000) while the work of leading British portrait photographer Alistair Morrison is represented in typically superb images of Oliver Reed (£1,800-£2,200) and Frederick Forsyth (£1,500-£2,000). They are numbers 21 and 18 respectively from editions of 25, and an example of each is held by the National Portrait Gallery.

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