William Eggleston - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • When William Eggleston’s first major exhibition debuted at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976, it was not only the commonplace subject matter that caught people’s attention but the rich, saturated hues in which they were presented. Indeed, while Eggleston’s photographs were reminiscent of vernacular photography, his meticulous eye paired with the highly technical dye transfer process elevated his prints to a level worthy of hanging on museum walls. As seen here in Sumner, Mississippi, a hallmark image in William Eggleston’s Guide, the color is a vital component of the photographic composition.

    William Eggleston’s Guide, exhibition catalogue (1976)

    Known for its intense depth of color in which the cyan, magenta and yellow dyes are applied sequentially to one layer of emulsion, the dye transfer process is the only traditional printing method that allowed for individual color adjustments. The laborious process was expensive and rarely used for fine art printing when Eggleston starting using the method in the 1970s. Today it is ever more costly and rare as Kodak stopped manufacturing the chemicals to make dye transfer prints in the mid-1990s, and few supplies remain. Eggleston’s 2002 edition of this image, of which this is an example, was made in Hamburg, Germany by Nino Mondhe, one of the last remaining masters of the process.

    • Provenance

      ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica

    • Literature

      Szarkowski, William Eggleston's Guide, p. 91
      Whitney Museum of American Art, William Eggleston Democratic Camera Photographs and Video, 1961-2008, pl. 16
      Moore, Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980, p. 9

    • 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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Sumner, Mississippi

circa 1970
Dye transfer print, printed 2002.
21 3/4 x 15 in. (55.2 x 38.1 cm)
Signed in ink in the margin; dated, lettered 'C/D,' annotated 'Mississippi' in an unidentified hand in ink and Eggleston Artistic Trust copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the verso. One from an edition of 9 plus 4 artist's proofs lettered sequentially 'A-D'.

Full Cataloguing

$70,000 - 90,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023