Press Release

50 Masterworks to Celebrate 50 Years of Sotheby’s Photographs

New York
Sotheby's Celebrates 50 Years of Photographs Auctions

From William Henry Fox Talbot to Chris Levine, Sotheby's to Sell 50 Masterworks Showcasing the Evolution of Photography Over Two Centuries

This April, Sotheby’s Photographs department will mark its Golden Jubilee with a tightly-curated auction that showcases fifty iconic images by the medium’s most influential artists. From works by important 19th century practitioners and pioneering women artists of the early 20th-century, to exceptional post-war, fashion and contemporary photographs by the biggest names in visual arts today, the two-part online sale will encompass nearly 200 years of global photographic history. Open for bidding from 12 - 22 April, each of the photographs in the 50 Masterworks to Celebrate 50 Years of Sotheby’s Photographs sale will demonstrate – in its own way and for its own time period – a significant achievement in the history of the medium.

Emily Bierman, Sotheby’s Head of Photographs in New York, commented: “For 50 years Sotheby’s has been at the vanguard of Photographs auctions, continually redefining the criteria against which our market is judged. We are thrilled to present this transatlantic sale – the first of its kind within the Photographs market – as a celebration of the most beautiful and inventive artistic medium of our time. The masterpieces in the auction were curated to highlight both the earliest photographic experiments, epitomized by a treasure trove of rare photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot, as well as the boundary pushing icons of the present day such as Chris Levine’s Lightness of Being. Encompassing such a wide scope that highlights the major artistic achievements, thematic breakthroughs, and iconic artists who have brought photography to the fore, we are thrilled to finally share this expansive and thoughtful auction with the global collecting community.”

Brandei Estes, Sotheby’s Head of Photographs in London, added: “As the first international auction house to hold dedicated sales of Photography, it is remarkable to see how this medium has grown into one of the most dynamic, active markets in the art world. Once considered ephemera that were often lumped into books or prints sales, we’ve seen incredible strides in how the category has developed, from the rise of fashion photography to the emergence of Instagram as the dominant social media platform that has only reinforced the mass appeal of photography and opened a new generation of collectors to the possibilities of the medium. New artists are continuing to showcase the importance of photography in our lives, such as Misan Harriman, whose iconic Black Lives Matter photograph we had the privilege to sell last year, and we look forward to all the exciting development we’ll see in photographs in the next 50 years.”


Amanda Bass |
Hanae Robelo |

About Sotheby’s
Established in 1744, Sotheby’s is the world’s premier destination for art and luxury. Sotheby’s promotes access, connoisseurship and preservation of fine art and rare objects through auctions and buy-now channels including private sales, e-commerce and retail. Our trusted global marketplace is supported by an industry-leading technology platform and a network of specialists spanning 40 countries and 50 categories, which include Contemporary Art, Modern and Impressionist Art, Old Masters, Chinese Works of Art, Jewelry, Watches, Wine and Spirits, and Interiors, among many others.

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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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