Lot 111
  • 111

Richard Avedon

150,000 - 250,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Richard Avedon
  • gelatin silver prints
(New York: self-published, 1978, an edition of 75), a portfolio of 11 photographs, each signed and editioned '15/75' in pencil and with the portfolio, copyright, and individual title stamps on the reverse, each within individual wrappers numbered sequentially 1 through 11 in pencil, 1948-57, printed in 1978; accompanied by 2 additional prints of Lucy Saroyan and Aram Saroyan and his family in an additional wrapper numbered '*12 for Carol'; together with the printed plate list/colophon, these within another wrapper as issued, signed and editioned '*15/75, *especially for Carol,' in pencil on the front. Folio, linen clamshell box with the photographer's name printed in red


All eleven portfolio photographs, printed on Agfa Portriga paper, are in generally excellent condition. Some have minor silvering in the dark areas and negative areas. Additional issues are listed as follows: 'Elise Daniels with Street Performers, Suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, August 1948' - When examined in raking light, intermittent silvering is visible in the dark areas. 'Renée, The New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1947' - Three very tiny white specks, likely unretouched pinpoint areas in the original negative, are visible in the skirt. 'Marlene Dietrich, Turban by Dior, The Ritz, Paris, August 1955' - Visible in raking light at the upper right and left edges of the print is intermittent silvering. The 2 additional prints, in a wrapper numbered 12, are of Lucy Saroyan, Aram Saroyan, his wife Gailyn, and their children Strawberry, Cream, and Armenak. These are in excellent condition. Each is dedicated by Avedon in pencil--'Dearest Saroyans from Dick, 9.29.78,' and 'with love from Dick, 9.29.78.' There is foxing on the individual wrappers for numbers 1, 2, and 11. There is a narrow fold along the left edge of the colophon/plate list. Three of these prints, as well as the heavy wrappers that are signed, editioned, and dedicated to Carol Matthau by the photographer in pencil on the front wrapper, have undergone conservation, and a treatment report for the photographs is available on demand. There is minor discoloration, foxing, soiling, and rubbing at the extremities of the portfolio case, both inside and out. Literature: Richard Avedon, 'Woman in the Mirror' (New York, 2005), frontispiece and pp. 14-15, 18-19, 30-31, 32-33, 44-45, 46-47, 50-51, 60-61, 62-63, and 64-65 Michael Juul Holm, ed., 'Richard Avedon - Photographs 1946-2004' (Humblebæk: Louisiana Museum of Art, 2007, in conjunction with the exhibition), pp. 14, 31, 37, 39, 45, and 57 'Richard Avedon: Evidence 1944-1994' (New York, 1994), pp. 38, 48, 50-51, 132, and 135 Richard Avedon, 'An Autobiography' (New York, 1993), pls. 17, 26, and 45
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This portfolio was published in conjunction with Avedon's 1978 retrospective exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 13 - November 5, 1978.

The portfolio plates are as follows:

Elise Daniels with Street Performers, Suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, August 1948

Renée, The New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1949

Dorian Leigh, Coat by Dior, Avenue Montaigne, Paris, August 1949

Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), Coat by Cardin, Place Françoise Premier, Paris, August 1957

Dorian Leigh, Evening dress by Piguet, Helena Rubinstein apartment, Île St.-Louis, Paris, August 1949

Dorian Leigh, Schiaparelli rhinestones, Pré-Catelan, Paris, August 1949

Sunny Harnett, Evening dress by Grès, Casino, Le Touquet, August 1954

Suzy Parker and Robin Tattersall, Evening dress by Griffe, Folies-Bergère, Paris, August 1957

Elise Daniels, Turban by Paulette, Pré-Catelan, Paris, August 1948

Suzy Parker, Evening dress by Lanvin-Castillo, Café des Beaux Arts, Paris, August 1956

Marlene Dietrich, Turban by Dior, The Ritz, Paris, August 1955 

The copy of Richard Avedon's Paris portfolio offered here comes originally from the collection of the photographer's personal friend, the actress and author Carol Matthau (1925–2003).  The portfolio was published on the occasion of Avedon's celebrated 1978 retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the first exhibitions at that museum for the work of a living photographer.  Carol Matthau and her friend Oona O'Neill Chaplin were given a private tour of the show by Avedon, and afterwards, the three went to his studio for a dinner consisting of champagne, caviar, and brownies.  'Who else would think of a meal that way?' Matthau recalled in her 1992 memoir, Among the Porcupines.  'It was simply perfect.  So was the music.  So was the conversation.  Being with Dick is perfect.'   In Among the Porcupines, Matthau devotes a chapter to Richard Avedon, whose friendship she characterized as 'one of the best parts of my life.'  Her insights into this internationally famous photographer are both incisive and touching.  'He acts not as the renowned artist he is,' she observed, 'but as a boy who came in the back door.  But if you know him, the first thing you know is that nothing is accidental.' 

Carol Matthau met Avedon when he was just starting out in New York, with magazine assignments and a small one-room apartment for his new family.  Over the years she watched his reputation grow.  'I don't know any woman who doesn't want to be photographed by Dick,' she wrote, and she was lucky enough to have him photograph her for the theatre.  When she tried to pay him years later, he tore up the check.  In her memoir, she captures his obsessiveness, his brilliance, and his kindness, although to Matthau, he always seemed an outsider.  'Dick is a loner,' she wrote, 'and his generosity is the deepest kind.  He wants you to get what you want on your terms.  If he gives advice, it is toward getting what you want as you dream it might happen.  He understands dreaming when you're awake.  He respects fantasy.  He does not bury life in practicality.'

It is this quality of fantasy—of not being buried in life's practicalities—that suffuses Avedon's fashion photography, some of the best of which is represented in his now-legendary Paris portfolio.  Jumping over puddles in a couture coat, playing roulette in an off-shoulder gown, walking backstage at the Folies-Bergère—Avedon's fashion photographs portray a world that is impossibly elegant, and always filled with adventure, style, and fun.  

Carol Matthau's extraordinary life was also the stuff of fantasy.  Foster child, then Park Avenue debutante, then actress, author, wife, and mother, Matthau's story could have been a screenplay.  Her lifelong friends, from childhood, were Oona O'Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, and Gloria Vanderbilt.  She acted on Broadway and in the movies.  She was one of the inspirations for Holly Golightly in her friend Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's.  She published a novel at 30.  She had not one, but two, stormy marriages to the tempermental William Saroyan, then found lasting happiness with her second husband, the actor Walter Matthau.   Her friend Richard Avedon told her again and again that she must write, and her memoir Among the Porcupines, from which the quotes in this essay are taken, is a witty and clear-eyed homage to her time and her many friends, Avedon included, who made a difference in her life.