The White Iris (Tina Modotti),” a photograph Edward Weston made in 1921, is also one of only two known prints of that image; it is expected to sell for $400,00 to $600,000.
A RARE ACQUISITION
The National Gallery of Art in Washington has been collecting photographs since 1949, when Georgia O’Keeffe donated 1,270 prints made by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz. Its collection now includes works by major American photographers from Walker Evans to Paul Strand to Ansel Adams.
But for years Sarah Greenough, its photography curator, has been trying to add 19th-century British photographs.
This week the National Gallery announced its most recent acquisition: 41 photographs taken in the 1840s, ’50s and ’60s by British photographers like William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. The collection was assembled in the 1960s and ’70s by Howard Ricketts, a former director of Sotheby’s in London, and his wife, Jane.
“Nineteenth-century photographs don’t often come to the market” Ms. Greenough said. “And this acquisition dovetails perfectly with our existing collection.”
Museums are also expected to be bidding at a much-anticipated photography sale at Sotheby’s in New York on April 25 and 26. The lots will be from the private collection of Margaret W. Weston.
Ms. Weston opened the Weston Gallery in Carmel, Calif., in 1975, long before buying photography became popular, and she is something of a legend among collectors. She was introduced to the field when she married Cole Weston, the youngest son of the photographer Edward Weston, in 1963. After their divorce in 1974, she needed work, and her friend Ansel Adams encouraged her to start the gallery. Its first show was an exhibition of his work.
But Ms. Weston held on to special photographs, forming a collection that included rare platinum prints by Edward Weston. (He died five years before the marriage.) Among them is “The Ascent of Attic Angles,” a haunting interior from 1921. One of only two known existing prints of the image, it is expected to sell for $700,000 to $1 million.
“The White Iris (Tina Modotti),” a photograph Edward Weston made in 1921, is also one of only two known prints of that image; it is expected to sell for $400,00 to $600,000.
“They’re really like rare paintings,” Ms. Weston said in a telephone interview from her home in Carmel.
“I’ve always been a collector at heart,” she added. “I have a lot on my walls, but a lot in the vault. I just thought it was time to pass them on for others to enjoy.”
The sale, which is expected to bring $5.6 million to $8.4 million, includes 17 photographs by Adams as well as works by Carleton Watkins and Man Ray. But Ms. Weston is keeping many photographs that she said have sentimental value to her