Jeannette Klute - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of the artist, South Bristol, New York
    Collection of Tom Jacobson, Tucson, acquired from the above in 1994

  • Literature

    Klute, Woodland Portraits, pls. 1-50
    Mulligan, Jeannette Klute: A Photographic Pioneer, figs. 9, 11-13, pp. 26, 29, 33, 34, 37, 40, 47, and 48

  • Catalogue Essay

    The group of 53 dye-transfer prints offered in this lot comprise Jeannette Klute’s unique maquette for Woodland Portraits, one of the first books devoted exclusively to color photography. Klute studied photography at the Mechanics’ Institute in Rochester and was hired as a lab technician by Eastman Kodak in 1938, becoming one of the few women to have a technical, as opposed to secretarial, position at the company. There, she had a direct role in the development of the dye-transfer process which, with its superior colors and stability, represented a significant advance in color photography. In her capacity as a manager, Klute hired women to fill many lab positions and helped change the culture of the male-dominated company.

    In the dye-transfer process, Klute found the ideal medium for the serene nature studies she made in the wetlands and forests around her home near Rochester. She collected the best of these images in the maquette offered here, published as Woodland Portraits in 1954. The book received resounding praise: Edward Steichen wrote that it was ‘one of the most distinguished, carefully considered and produced books in the field of photography,’ while Ansel Adams exclaimed, ‘It is magnificent! . . . I think Miss Klute has made a major contribution to creative photography—a new and fresh approach.’ The success of the book was due in large part to the excellence of the color photographs, as well as Klute’s meticulous sequencing and sensitive pairing of images with quotations by poets and writers. Klute’s work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut.

    Klute printed in very limited quantities and her early dye-transfer prints, such as those offered here, are rare. Contact the Photographs Department for additional documentation on this group.


Maquette for Woodland Portraits

Fifty-three dye-transfer prints.
Various sizes to 12 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (32.4 x 24.8 cm) or the reverse.
All but 3 signed in ink on the recto; each mounted on thin board, with interleaved pages with typed captions and quotations and occasional pencil edits by Klute. In three parts, each unbound within board covers. Accompanied by Woodland Portraits (Boston, 1954), folio, gilt-lettered buckram, profusely illustrated with color reproductions of Klute’s photographs.

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $10,000

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 13 July 2020