Todd Webb - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York

  • Literature

    Thames & Hudson, I See at City: Todd Webb's New York, cover, detail
    Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder, pp. 88-93

  • Catalogue Essay

    Todd Webb’s masterful panoramic view of Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets was a remarkable photographic achievement in its day and was chosen by the State Department to be exhibited at Expo 58, also known as the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. By today’s standards it is no less impressive, and with the passing of each year the significance of its historical record becomes more profound.

    Creating this portrait of a heavily trafficked New York City block required considerable planning, innovation, and trial-and-error to live up to Webb’s exacting standards for detail and print quality. Because such an image could not be taken in a single exposure, Webb plotted out where to place his large-format camera for each shot, marking the position in chalk on the sidewalk along the opposite side of the avenue. Webb had to work quickly to ensure consistent light in each exposure. In his journal, Webb catalogued other difficulties he encountered, noting ‘It was surprisingly hard to do because of the cars and trucks that just park for a few minutes. Also the cars that come whizzing by from both directions that you must shoot between. You can’t use part of a car in one section. You must have all of it or nothing.’

    Ultimately, Webb made eight perfectly exposed photographs which he painstakingly joined to create the continuous scene offered here. Each panel offers up a seemingly inexhaustible level of detail: storefronts and their signs, the features and clothing of passersby, tantalizing glimpses of 2nd-floor apartments – all the myriad visual facts of the scene clearly delineated by the bright afternoon sunlight of a March day in 1948.

    Other examples of this panorama are in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the International Center of Photography, New York; and the Museum of the City of New York.


Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets, New York

Panorama comprised of eight gelatin silver prints, printed later.
9 x 72 in. (22.9 x 182.9 cm)
Overall 17 1/2 x 80 1/4 in. (44.5 x 203.8 cm)

$20,000 - 30,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs, New York

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 12 October 2022