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Frantic bidding for Fenton's photographs at local auction

Auctioneers in the Cotswold were stunned when photography specialists from the USA and Europe bid against each other via telephone pushing the price of five rare Fenton photographs up to £100,000, over five times their combined estimated value.

Dominic Winter auctioneer, Chris Albury, said "I had no idea that these photographs were so rare when I first saw them but it seems likely that there are no more than a handful of each. It was only when I spotted an export ban story on one of these that I realised we had a variant of the same photograph, albeit smaller and without Fenton himself in the photograph." - as reported by the BPH blog creator here.

One of the Oriental-genre photographs by famed Crimean War photographer Roger Fenton carried a top estimate of £5,000-8,000, and fetched £32,000.

Mr Albury added: "The current owner believes his father had them at least fifty years ago and possibly they have been languishing in a damp-stained folder in the attic since Victorian times. When I told him the results he sounded close to tears with emotion saying how much difference this was going to make to him and his family."


The full report of the auction which was held last Thursday (17th June 2010) can be found here, and the sale catalogue, with full description of the photos and hammer prices, is located here.


Photo: Effendi & Musician by Roger Fenton from 1858 sold for £27,000, nine times its expected price of £3,000.

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Comment by Michael Wong on June 28, 2010 at 21:12
According to this week's Antiques Trade Gazette, a total of 51 photographs are known to have been printed by Fenton from the 'Orientalist' collodion negatives made in his London studio around 1858. But fewer than 20 were ever exhibited by Fenton during 1859 and most were never published. By 1862 Fenton had sold his equipment and abandoned the profession entirely.

The majority of photographs known from this series come from Fenton’s own ‘grey paper’ albums sold by Christie’s between 1978 and 1982, of which the Getty Museum in Los Angeles holds the lion’s share.

The photograph that is currently the subject of an export ban is from the suite entitled Pasha And Bayadere – one of only two known. One of the images sold in this Cotswold auction was a smaller version of this picture with a slightly different composition.
Comment by Michael Wong on June 22, 2010 at 11:34
If your wallet doesn't quite stretch that far enough, you may wish to go the 'el cheapo' route via eBay. Apparently, there's a 'museum quality' Fenton Crimea war salt print up for bid in the US currently standing at US $202.

According to the listing, this fine and rich vintage salt print, dated 5th April 1856, is accredited to Roger Fenton as photographer and T.A. Agnew and Colnaghi as publishers in Manchester and London. The war-strewn landscape photograph is of an image of an unidentified officer with a gun in a holster seated atop a horse.

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