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Auction: important archive of early photography relating to W H F Talbot to be sold in New York / 12-22 April 2021

Sotheby's New York is celebrating fifty years of photograph auctions with a sale of fifty masterworks online between 12-22 April 2021, closing at 1801 (BST). Work ranges from Gustave Le Gray to Irving Penn and Martin Parr. 

Of particular interest is a group of  nearly 200 photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot, given by him to his half-sister Henriette Horatio Maria Gaisford (née Fielding) in the 1840s. The collection was remained with the family in Ireland since then and this is the first time that it has come to auction. 

It consists of loose photographs, albums The Pencil of Nature, Sun Pictures in Scotland and Horatia's personal sketchbook and sheet music. Sotheby's describe the lot as 'arguably the most important lot of 19th century photographs to ever come to market'. It is estimated at US $300,000-500,000. 

Included are: 

  • a group of 71 salt prints, several with manuscript captions in a contemporary hand in ink, two credited 'from nature H. F. T.' and 'H. F. Talbot,' likely by the photographer, and most with manuscript captions in a modern hand in pencil on the reverse; 
  • Horatia's Album, comprising 25 salt prints, most with manuscript captions in a contemporary hand in ink on the mount; an album comprising 32 salt prints, most with manuscript captions in a contemporary hand in ink on the mount, inscribed 'Talbotypes 1843' in ink on the front pastedown;
  • an album comprising 24 salt prints, most with manuscript caption in a contemporary hand in ink on the mount;
  • the complete volume Sun Pictures in Scotland (London, 1845), 23 salt prints, on mounts with hand-ruled borders, each plate numbered in ink on the mount, 1844. 4to, gilt-lettered green cloth with a gilt-decorative cartouche, stamped 'A Tarrant Binder 16 Great Queen St' on the front pastedown, with the title page, plate list, and 'Notice to the Reader' inserted; 
  • The Pencil of Nature, (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1845-46), Parts II (plates 6-12), III (plates 13-15), IV (plates 16-18, with plate 16 in duplicate), and V (plates 19-21), 17 salt prints on mounts with hand-ruled borders, 15 numbered in ink on the mount; each with printed wrappers, Part II inscribed by its owner ‘Horatia Feilding / given me by Henry’ in ink on the front free endpaper, accompanied by letterpress text and two ‘Notice to the Reader’ pasted in; and 
  • Horatia's Sketchbook, with more than 20 pencil sketches and watercolors of botanicals, variously dated from September 18, 1820, to April 24, 1824 various sizes to 7½ by 9 in. (19.1 by 22.9 cm.)

Details of the auction are here.

For the Talbot lot see: https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2021/50-masterworks-to-cele...

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