Walker Evans - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • The photograph offered here is a rare early print of one of Walker Evans’s most celebrated images. It bears the stamp of the Farm Security Administration. In 1935, Evans was hired by Roy Stryker, head of the Information Division of the Resettlement Administration, a governmental agency of the New Deal, to document RA projects across the country. The RA was transferred in 1937 to the Farm Security Administration, with Stryker in charge of assigning photographers. Evans left the FSA later in 1937, although his photographs remained with the agency publication in newspapers and magazines. The FSA stamp on the verso of the present print indicates that it was made between 1937 and 1942, after which point the FSA was absorbed into the Office of War Information and the FSA stamps were retired.


    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 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

      Maddox, Walker Evans: Photographs for the Farm Security Administration 1935-1938, p. 230
      Hambourg and Rosenheim, Walker Evans, pl. 83
      Harper & Row, Walker Evans, First and Last, p. 92
      Mora and Hill, Walker Evans: The Hungry Eye, p. 312

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


Lot offered with No Reserve

Billboard, Birmingham, Alabama

Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1942.
8 x 9 1/2 in. (20.3 x 24.1 cm)
Farm Security Administration credit and use stamps with typed title and date on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $6,096

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023