Images of history go to auction: Man Ray print sets record price for single photograph of 122,500 pounds

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A SET of prints from the Camera Club's permanent collection of photographs went on sale at Sotheby's yesterday to raise funds to maintain the 1,800 prints which remain in the collection.

Included in the 200 prints submitted by the club, which was founded in 1885, was Seen from the Wings, by Bellamy, a wartime photographer. It was one of 10 studies of fighter planes from the Second World War and fetched pounds 1,035, against an estimate of pounds 1,000 to pounds 1,500.

Only half of the 50 lots offered were sold and raised pounds 43,671 to help the club to pay for preservation, storage and insurance costs.

But the centre of attention at Sotheby's sale of Photographic Images and Related Material was a rare signed print of Man Ray's Glass Tears, circa 1930, which made pounds 122,500, and set a record for any single photograph. It had been valued at pounds 20,000 to pounds 30,000, and went to a private UK collector.

Another item to catch the collectors' attention was an 1872 photograph of a little girl sitting seductively on a bed, which sold for pounds 9,200, against an estimate of pounds 2,000 to pounds 3,000. Much of the appeal of Julia Arnold, seated on an unmade bed, lay in the photographer's name - Lewis Carroll, the children's author and a pioneer amateur photographer.

The image was among 17 Carroll photographs sold. Many reflect his fondness for little girls. In his hands, some seem sexually ambiguous, dressed as an adult or seeming to pose like one. Although his sitters included Ruskin, Tennyson and Rossetti, he focused his attention on children - particularly young girls.

Philippe Garner, of Sotheby's, said: 'It is dangerous to start psycho-babble, but something complicated is going on in these pictures. Is it magical insight? Or is there a sinister strand to it? . . . That's what makes them so intriguing.'

He added that even without Carroll's name behind them, the pieces would be important in their own right. 'These works couldn't be by anyone else . . . I've seen hundreds of studio photographs of that era: they're stiff, lifeless and largely without interest.'

The photographs sold yesterday came from two different sources, descendents of the sitters, and totalled pounds 55,834.

(Photograph omitted)