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 July 15. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
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 15 silver prints by Jessie Tarbox Beals mostly taken in Santa Barbara and Hollywood, California, circa 1930, of gardens, stately homes and landmarks. 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. The Beals archive carries an estimate of $6,000-$8,000.
Further photographers of note include Margaret Bourke-White, one of the most iconic photojournalists of the 20th century working with Fortune and Life Magazine. She is represented by Silver, a circa-1930 warm-toned silver print estimated at $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 World War II. A selection of images by Ruth Orkin will be also featured in the sale, alongside photographs by Berenice Abbott, Gertrude Kasebier, Doris Ulmann and more. Additional fine art features works by Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois 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 written during the 1840s by Jane Russell while on 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, dating to 1948–1957 ($4,000-$6,000); an archive of photos and papers of Jean Bonnie Gray, National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee and trick rider ($700-$900); and a dissenting opinion cover sheet signed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg ($600-$900).
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, Colorado ($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).
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/