Swann readies second Focus on Women sale for June 2
NEW YORK — Swann Galleries will present the second iteration of its Focus on Women auction Thursday, June 2. The sale emphasizes women’s experiences and contributions to literature, science, art, politics and thought. With published and manuscript material from the hand-press period, through the work of living artists, collectors will have a chance to bid on photographs, prints, books and archives. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The history of women’s rights are chronicled throughout the sale with items related to Suffrage — including The History of Woman Suffrage, 1881-1922 by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, estimated at $7,000-$10,000 — through the Civil Rights and Equal Pay movements, with a 1970 lithograph poster illustrated by Dana C. Chandler Jr. urging the release of Angela Davis, estimated at $600-$900; a 1970s poster for NOW, the National Organization for Women, estimated at $300-$500; and Cry Out, created by the Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective in 1971, estimated at $800-$1,200.
Trailblazers include images of Rosa Parks ($300-$500), Amelia Earhart ($300-$500) and a signed and inscribed image of Sally Ride ($150-$250) alongside a selection of 16 photographs depicting women in space from 1995 to 2002 ($500-$750). Also on offer is a 1908 autograph letter signed by Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross ($250-$350); and an 1859 letter signed by Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, to King Francis II of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ($700-$1,000).
Literary works by Black women form a significant portion of the auction, beginning with a Phillis Wheatley poem — Recollection, to Miss A_ M_, Humbly Inscribed by the Authoress as printed in The London Magazine in 1772. The Wheatley poem is estimated at $1,500-$2,500. Continuing into the 19th century, the sale lineup includes Sojourner Truth’s 1875 autobiography, estimated at $1,000-$1,500. Also featured are literary prize winners and first editions from the 20th century, among them a signed and inscribed copy of Georgia Johnson’s Bronze from 1922, estimated at $4,000-$6,000; Nella Larsen’s Passing, published in 1929, estimated at $600-$800; Gwendolyn Brooks’s A Street in Bronzeville, dating to 1945 and estimated at $400-$600; and a number of first editions by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.
Other literary highlights include an autograph letter signed by Louisa May Alcott, written post-1868 with mentions of Little Women, estimated at $1,200-$1,800; Anne Bradstreet’s Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight from 1758, estimated at $1,000-$2,000; a 1931 first edition of Pearl S. Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good Earth, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; a 1929 signed limited edition of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, estimated at $3,000-$4,000; and a run of works by Gertrude Stein.
Highlights from women in entertainment include a 1925 program for the New Plantation Revue’s show Tan Town Topics, which was headlined by Ethel Waters and featured a young Josephine Baker in a scene just before her move to France. It carries an estimate of $1,000-$1,500. Also featured is Eve Arnold’s 1960 silver print of Marilyn Monroe in the Nevada desert rehearsing lines during filming of The Misfits. It was printed circa 2000 and is estimated at $2,500-$3,500.
Material from artists represented in the June 2 auction include a small archive once belonging to Elaine de Kooning, estimated at $2,000-$3,000, as well as a circa-1985 bronze relief sculpture that was cast between 1992 and 1994; its estimate is $10,000-$15,000. Additional highlights include works by the Guerrilla Girls, Dorothy Dehner, Marlene Dumas, Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova, Mary Cassatt, Imogen Cunningham, Hedda Sterne and Helen Frankenthaler.
Lots related to preserving stories of more obscure women in history include Christine La Barraque’s Hastings Law School class photograph — La Barraque was the first blind woman admitted to practice law in California. The photo carries an estimate of $300-$500. A Free Norma Jean Croy t-shirt, as well as the original silkscreen used for its printing, dating to the 1980s or 1990s, is on offer at $150-$250. Croy, a member of the Shasta-Karok tribe, was wrongly convicted and sentenced after a racially charged incident in 1978; her case was upheld by social justice groups in the 1990s working to free wrongly convicted Native Americans.
Included with an estimate of $300-$500 is a salt-print of the Harvard College house cleaning team from 1863. Harvard maintained a cleaning staff to tend to the residents of student housing until 1950. These items will be offered alongside a number of lots containing unique manuscript material such as travel diaries and unpublished letters created by people obscured by a male-dominated lens.
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