William Eggleston - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Phillips

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  • In 1974, while teaching photography at Harvard University, William Eggleston privately published this limited-edition portfolio of 14 Pictures. Although it was the first such venture of his career, Eggleston still regards this suite as one of the best groupings of his work. These fourteen photographs are unified by a notable absence of human protagonists, and a striking use of raking angles; these qualities lend an evocative and somewhat mysterious air to these otherwise ordinary scenes of suburban Memphis.


    The most distinguishing feature of the present work is its use of dye-transfer printing. In addition to The Red Ceiling (1973), which quickly entered the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, the prints in 14 Pictures were among the first that Eggleston created with this process. The artist discovered this new method of printing color negatives in 1973. Eggleston recalled, ‘I was reading the price list of this lab in Chicago, and it advertised “from the cheapest to the ultimate print.” The ultimate print was a dye-transfer. I went straight up there to look and everything I saw was commercial work like pictures of cigarette packs or perfume bottles but the color saturation and the quality of the ink was overwhelming. I couldn't wait to see what a plain Eggleston picture would look like with the same process. Every photograph I subsequently printed with the process seemed fantastic and each one seemed better than the previous one’ (quoted in William Eggleston: Ancient and Modern, p. 16).


    This portfolio offers a masterclass in the use of color in photography. Nearly all the prints feature the vivid reds and yellows that the artist favored in the early 1970s, but he uses them sparingly in this portfolio, presenting glimpses of bright color amidst more muted tints. Eggleston’s deft and decisive deployment of color yields a maximum of pictorial impact.

    • Provenance

      Lambert Art Collection, Geneva, Switzerland
      Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, 25 October 2002, lot 42

    • Literature

      Eggleston, Ancient and Modern, pp. 35, 65 and 41, for prints 1, 5 and 10
      Eggleston, Hasselblad Award 1998: William Eggleston, n.p., for selected prints
      Szarkowski, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960, p. 132, for print 12
      Chandès, William Eggleston, pls. 66-73, for selected prints
      Galassi, Walker Evans & Company, pls. 18 and 104 and p. 158, for selected prints

    • Artist Biography

      William Eggleston

      American • 1939

      William Eggleston's highly saturated, vivid images, predominantly capturing the American South, highlight the beauty and lush diversity in the unassuming everyday. Although influenced by legends of street photography Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston broke away from traditional black and white photography and started experimenting with color in the late 1960s.

      At the time, color photography was widely associated with the commercial rather than fine art — something that Eggleston sought to change. His 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Color Photographs, fundamentally shifted how color photography was viewed within an art context, ushering in institutional acceptance and helping to ensure Eggleston's significant legacy in the history of photography.

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14 Pictures

Washington, D.C.: Lunn Gallery/Graphics International Ltd., 1974.
Fourteen dye transfer prints.

23 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. (59.7 x 74.9 cm) or the reverse.
Each signed in pencil and with the portfolio stamp, with plate and edition number in an unidentified hand in pencil, on the verso. Number 14 from an edition of 15. Colophon. Accompanied by a portfolio box.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $176,400

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