A singular collection of original exhibition photographs by the pioneering documentary photographer Margaret Bourke-White brought $44,075 at the Worth Auction galleries in Ithaca, New York. Active bidding came from the floor as well as through the auction house’s global online bidding platforms.
Bourke-White (1904-1971) is remembered the world over as the first female war photojournalist, the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union, and the first female photographer for Henry Luce’s Life magazine, for which she supplied the first issue’s cover image.
She is also remembered as a prominent alumna of Cornell University, where she honed her craft by documenting the rural campus and selling prints to campus publications and fellow students. “It was the beauty of Cornell and of its environs,” she later said, “that was the deciding factor in my choice of photography as a life work.”
The collection comprised 35 large-scale, specially mounted gelatin silver prints from the original negatives which were part of a retrospective show in New York. The images covered much of Bourke-White’s dynamic range, from harrowing scenes inside liberated concentration camps to Soviet workers sifting through carloads of rocks to black preachers at a prayer meeting.
Other photographic works recently consigned to Worth Auctions and its sister company National Book Auctions include a unique contact print by Philippe Halsman from the estate of actor Ray Bolger and a first edition of Robert Frank’s landmark photobook The Americans. Worth’s appraisal staff have also just finalized an insurance appraisal of a private photography collection in the Midwest valued at just under $1 million.