Pierre Dubreuil - The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation New York Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Tom Jacobson, San Diego
    Christie's, New York, 8 April 1998, lot 249

  • Exhibited

    2nd Annual International Salon of Photography, Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, 15 April- 15 May 1932
    Internationell Fotografiutstllning, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, January 1934
    Pierre Dubreuil Photographs 1896-1935, Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1987
    Pierre Dubreuil Rediscovered, The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, 1988, traveling to Alliance Française, New York, 1989 and The Detroit Institute of the Arts, 1990

  • Catalogue Essay

    Few European photographers operated as successfully as Pierre Dubreuil in the two dominant, frequently opposed, styles of the early 20th century, Pictorialism and Modernism. His best photographs synthesize elements of these two photographic modes and combine a Pictorialist emphasis on the craft of photographic printing with a Modernist simplification of form. Rendered here as a platinum print and embodying a graceful minimalism, Un Geste is the quintessential Dubreuil photograph.

    The subject of Un Geste is the painter Edmond Jamois (1876-1975). Jamois was, like Dubreuil, born in the French town of Lille, and the two remained friends as they embarked upon their respective artistic careers. In 1912 the critic Anthony Guest praised Dubreuil’s portrait of the painter, especially his rendering of Jamois’s “refined hand, full of temperament, highly strung and sensitive, a very revelation of individuality.”

    While Dubreuil’s photographs were widely published and exhibited in his day, including in the seminal International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in Buffalo in 1910, extant prints are scarce. Fearing for the safety of his work at the outset of World War II, Dubreuil sold his negatives and many of his photographs to the Agfa Gevaert factory in Belgium. When the factory was bombed, nearly all of Dubreuil’s oeuvre was destroyed. Dubreuil would have remained a shadowy figure in the history of photography were it not for the efforts of Tom Jacobson. Working diligently through the 1980s, Jacobson recovered Dubreuil’s surviving work and presented it to the public in the international exhibition Pierre Dubreuil, Photographs 1896-1935 and its companion catalogue. The print of Un Geste offered here comes from Jacobson’s collection. Only one other print of the image has been located: in the Royal Photographic Society Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Un Geste

Platinum print.
7 7/8 x 9 1/2 in. (20 x 24.1 cm)
The artist's monogram in white ink on the recto; titled in pencil on the mount; signed, titled, annotated in pencil and 'DB69' stamp on the reverse of the mount; various exhibition labels affixed to the reverse of the mount.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $47,500

Contact Specialist
Rachel Peart
+1 212 940 1246

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

General Enquiries:
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The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation

New York 3 October 2017