Sotheby’s to Auction Off Massive Ansel Adams Collection, Including $1M Print

Sotheby’s has announced plans to auction off one of the most impressive collections of Ansel Adams‘ work in existence. On December 14th, over 100 of the legendary photographer’s most iconic photos will be sold, headlined by an early print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico that is expected to fetch between $700,000 and $1,000,000 by itself.

This is the holy grail of Ansel Adams collections. Curated by longtime collector and oil company CEO David H. Arrington, it represents one of the most significant and impressive private collections of Adams work in the world; and on December 14th, it will be sold piece by piece to anybody who can afford to own it.

The star of the collection is an early gelatin silver print of Adams’ photograph Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, one of his most iconic images. This particular specimen is allegedly the earliest print of the image ever to come to market, making it particularly valuable and earning it an expected hammer price of between $700K and $1M. It is among only a handful of prints known to exist from before Adams refixed the negative in 1948, and measures 9.25 x 12.125 inches.

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico isn’t the only gem in this collection though. Also on-hand will be several of Adams’ mural-sized prints, including the two you see below.

The first is a “mammoth, mural-sized print” (84.75 x 119.75 inches) of Yosemite Valley created by Adams in the mid-1950s for the American Trust Company. Printed in sections, each section was so large they had to printed in special trays and then mounted with wheat paste to Homasote boards.

When American Trust was later acquired by Wells Fargo, many of the prints Adams created for them were sold or donated, including this one, which is expected to fetch between $70,000 and $100,000.

The last image called out by name (and my personal favorite) is a massive mural-sized gelatin silver print of Adams’ famous image Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming, 1942. The signed print measures 38.875 x 51.875 inches, and it’s mounted inside a frame that measures 53.75 x 69.5 inches.

“Photographed on commission for the Department of the Interior, this dramatic view of the mountains over Jackson Hole is believed to be one of less than 10 mural-sized prints of this image in existence,” writes Sotheby’s. “[It] is one of Adams’ defining images and is offered here in awe-inspiring scale.”

Like its brethren, it is expected to go for a mighty sum: between $400,000 and $600,000.

“The Arrington Collection was assembled with a true passion for the medium and a deep understanding of Adams’ extraordinary seven-decade career,” says Emily Bierman, Sotheby’s VP and Head of the Photographs Department. “[Mr. Arrington’s] focus on collecting only the most superb prints is apparent when viewing the sumptuous early print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, an unequivocal masterpiece in the history of art that rivals any blue chip painting.”

All 100+ works will be offered in a live auction titled “A Grand Vision: The David H. Arrington Collection of Ansel Adams Masterworks”, which is to be held December 14th at Sotheby’s New York. To learn more about the many, many pieces of incredible landscape photography that will be sold that day, head over to the Sotheby’s website or follow the auction house on Instagram and Facebook.

Image credits: All photos used courtesy of Sotheby’s auction house.

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