The photographs owned by Joy of Giving Something Foundation constitute the most significant collection of photographs privately held today. Its breadth of images and the sophistication with which they were chosen make it the rival of any number of museum collections, many of which it surpasses.
The 175th anniversary of photography in 2014 presents a unique opportunity to recount the history of the medium through the prism of masterworks in the JGS Collection. From daguerreotypes to dyetransfers, from photogenic drawings to digital chromogenic prints, the JGS Collection spans all 175 years of photography, at the highest level for each and every decade. Surveying the many treasures in the JGS Collection, the question was not how to locate 175 justly representative photographs within the collection, but rather which 175 photographs to choose. The unusual number of superb examples of the work of both the ‘Old Masters’ and the new practitioners of the medium made this selection both an adventure and a challenge. We have decided to present works that range from the iconic to the idiosyncratic, from the famous to the obscure, to give a sense of the imagination that chose these photographs and a flavor of the vast variety within the collection's scope.
It has been a privilege for the Sotheby’s Photographs Department to study so many consummately beautiful photographs from the JGS Collection in the past several months. I speak for my colleagues and myself when I say that every aspect of our decades of experience in the field has been called forth and challenged by what we have seen. Masterwork after masterwork, the Collection is filled with revelations for even the most seasoned connoisseur.
Chairman, Photographs, Sotheby's Americas