Rare Prints From Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Seminal MoMA Exhibition Are Going Under the Hammer

It is the first time the iconic images from the legendary photographer's career-defining museum exhibition are being offered at auction.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Near the Hall of Records, Civil Court Building, New York, 1947 (1947). Photo: Courtesy of artnet Auctions.
Henri Cartier-Bresson Near the Hall of Records, Civil Court Building, New York, 1947 (1947). Photo: Courtesy of artnet Auctions.

Works by legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson are some of the most desirable and sought-after trophies in the photography market. Now, a group of images by the renowned snapper are going under the hammer in a sale at artnet auctions.

The group of 20 images formed the core of the photographer’s most important solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1968.

“In the mid-1960s, Cartier-Bresson met with MoMA’s then-curator of photography John Szarkowski, and they decided to mount a major exhibition of 150 of his works titled ‘Recent Photographs,’ which opened in the summer of 1968,” Joseph Kraeutler, artnet’s head of photographs, explained in a statement.

While the photographer was already a well-known and respected artist in Europe, the popularity of the MoMA show led to a traveling exhibition at several museums across North America and South America. These shows played a key role in establishing Cartier-Bresson’s reputation as the leading photographer of his generation.

Printed between the mid-1950s and early 1960s, the original 150 images that made up the MoMA show were consigned to the New York museum by a group of three collectors. Now, a selection of the original prints from the Frenchman’s landmark exhibition are being put on the market for the first time in artnet’s online auction.

The works are estimated between $3,000 and $50,000 depending on size, format, edition size, and rarity.

Highlights include a portrait of a young boy carrying two large bottles of wine, titled Rue Mouffetard, Paris (1954) (est. $30,000–50,000); a group of important gelatin silver prints from his series on Siphnos, Greece (1961), and Roman Amphitheater, Valencia, Spain (1933) (est. $30,000–50,000). Another notable piece is the deeply personal On the Banks of the Marne, France (1938), which Cartier-Bresson took close to his birthplace near the French town of Seine-et-Marne (est. $8,000–12,000).

Get them before they’re gone: the sale closes on January 17.

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