Edward Weston Vintage Photographs, ca. 1940

Value (2009) | $15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

This is a picture of my mother that was taken in 1941 by Edward Weston. He was visiting a school that my father and mother were running called the Highlander Folk School. He took three photographs of my mom. This one here, another one which is used as an illustration in the Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and this 4x5 print here. Soon after he left, he gave these other four pictures to my mother, and they've been in the family ever since.

Well, when we think about Edward Weston, we're talking about one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, someone who really perfected the art of fine art photography, and in fact was awarded the first Guggenheim fellowship as a photographer in 1937.

I didn't know that.

What Weston used was a large-format, 8x10 inch view camera, and a smaller-format camera that, as we look at these pictures, we see render the images in the finest detail, the highest detail. And he was a master printer in the dark room, so the photographic prints have a warmth and a beautiful tonality that reflects the highest level of photographic expression and aesthetics. Now, these are vintage prints by Edward Weston. And, of course, the vintage photograph is the premium photograph, the choice photograph, because it was made near the time that the negative was made.


And what's wonderful about your photographs is that they're signed and dated and mounted by Edward Weston, which is the presentation that we hope to see. These pictures are from New Mexico, on the left, and Death Valley on the right. And Death Valley again in the center of the table. Here we see Edward Weston working at the school in Tennessee, which was called the Highlander Folk School. And we get a sense of the artist at work in this photo, but we don't know who made this photo.

No, we don't.

The picture of your mom is mounted, and we can see that the mount does have some condition issues along the edges, some browning, some foxing. That photo is initialed by Edward Weston. So we're seeing different types of presentation, but the important thing is that all the photographs are vintage.


At auction, if these prints were to be offered as a single lot, my estimate would be $15,000 to $25,000.

Okay, I'm impressed.

If the photographs were treated by a professional conservator, the value would be double.

Appraisal Details

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)

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