Harry Callahan - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips
  • The remarkable selection of photographs offered in this auction as lots 203 through 240 comes from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937-2021), the pioneering curator, teacher, and photographic historian. All of the sale’s proceeds will be distributed to six institutions with whom Bunnell was associated — Rochester Institute of Technology, Ohio University, Yale University, The George Eastman Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and Princeton University Art Museum — to establish endowments to support the study of photographic history.


    Bunnell curated the exhibition of Harry Callahan’s work at the American Pavilion at the 1978 Venice Biennial. The exhibition was accompanied by a printed catalogue published that same year with text by Bunnell.


    “Few men have given to photography greater riches than Callahan has, and fewer still, once their achievement has been recognized, have maintained such a humbleness of spirit. For nearly forty years, Callahan has demonstrated that the most common of subjects, approached with the most straightforward of techniques, can be made beautifully new.”
    —Peter C. Bunnell


    Peter C. Bunnell, catalogue for Harry Callahan exhibition at the 1978 Venice Biennial


    Bunnell began his long career in photography as a student of Minor White’s at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1950s and was recruited by White to work on the seminal periodical of artistic photography, Aperture. He joined the staff of The Museum of Modern Art in 1966 as a collection cataloguer, becoming Associate Curator and then Curator of Photography. At MoMA he curated the noteworthy exhibitions Photography as Printmaking (1968), Photography into Sculpture (1970), and the first retrospective of the work of Clarence H. White (1971). In 1972, he was hired as the inaugural David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University.


    Bunnell served as Director of the Princeton University Art Museum from 1973 to 1978, and as Acting Director from 1998 to 2000, while also being the Museum’s Curator of Photography throughout the entirety of his tenure. Bunnell built a broad-ranging collection of photographs at the Museum, the firsthand examination of which became a central element of the student experience in his classes and seminars. Bunnell also assembled a personal collection of photography over the course of his long career that reflects his vast and deep understanding of the medium. Begun in the 1950s, before photography galleries and dealers were commonplace, Bunnell’s collection is a deeply personal one, put together with a sense of joy and curiosity that includes both icons and lesser-known gems spanning the history of photography.


    • Provenance

      Collection of Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton, New Jersey

    • Literature

      Greenough, Harry Callahan, p. 89 (variant)
      Cox, Harry Callahan: Eleanor, p. 122, pl. 78 (variant)

A Reverence for Beauty: The Peter C. Bunnell Collection, Part 2


Lot offered with No Reserve

Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
7 1/8 x 6 3/4 in. (18.1 x 17.1 cm)
Signed in pencil in the margin.

Full Cataloguing

$4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for $5,715

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023