Brassaï (Gyula Halász) - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “The real night people, however, live at night not out of necessity, but because they want to. They belong to the world of pleasure, of love, vice, crime, drugs. A secret, suspicious world, closed to the uninitiated.”
    —Brassaï, The Secret Paris of the 1930s


    The four Brassaï photographs offered here and in lots 66 through 68, all originate from the private collection of Madame Brassaï, the photographer's widow, and were acquired from Edwynn Houk Gallery in 1993. Each captures often-taboo scenes of Parisian nightlife, a subject Brassaï joyfully immersed himself in via 'trickery and diplomacy' throughout the 1930s, after emigrating there from his native Hungary in 1924.


    Couple at the Bal des quatres Saison, rue de Lappe, taken in the early 1930s, shows a couple leisurely seated in one of Paris' popular dance halls beloved by working class communities. Replete with the feeling of unrestrained joy and opportunity, it has become one of the photographer's most famous photographs of Paris after dark. The mirrors cladding the walls in this establishment, and others like it, offered Brassaï a visual tool that cleverly alluded to his intent to show the other side of Paris, where daytime inhibitions gave way to nighttime indiscretions.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection of Madame Brassaï, Paris
      Houk Friedman Gallery, New York, 1993

    • Literature

      Thames & Hudson, Brassaï: The Secret Paris of the 30's, n.p.
      Brassaï, Voluptés de Paris, p. 15

Photographs from a Prominent New York Collection


Couple at the Bal de Quatres Saisons, Rue de Lappe

circa 1932
Gelatin silver print.
11 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (28.9 x 22.2 cm)
Two '81, Rue du Faubourg St-Jacques' copyright credit stamps and notations in unidentified hands in pencil and ink on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $22,860

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023