Upcoming Auctions and Events

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
Property of a Private West Coast Collector
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Quai de Javel, Paris, 1932

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
Quai de Javel, Paris, 1932
gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1943
signed, various printing annotations in pencil and Minicam stamp (on the verso)
image: 6 7/8 x 9 1/4in. (17.5 x 23.5cm.)
sheet: 8 x 10in. (20.5 x 25.5cm.)
The artist;
Minicam Photography Magazine, Cincinnati;
Acquired from the above by Frederic B. Knoop, Cincinnati, by 1950;
By descent to the present owner
'The Art of the Poetic Accident: The Photographs of Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt', Minicam Photography, March 1943, p. 29; Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work, p. 63 (variant)

Brought to you by

Darius Himes
Darius Himes

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

Condition report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This version of Quai de Javal, Paris (see lot 8) differs slightly from the one typically seen at auction. Our image appears to have captured the men still in motion, perhaps immediately before setting down their materials and posing for the more familiar depiction of this group of ‘plasterers.’ This makes sense, as Cartier-Bresson’s contact sheets from the early 1940s show photojournalist intention—he took multiple shots of each scene for story-telling purposes instead of a single representative photograph (C. Cookman, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image and The World; a Retrospective, London, p. 394). ‘Sometimes I think I have taken the master photo, but I go on shooting because I can never be sure how any event will turn out’ (H. Cartier-Bresson, The World of Henri Cartier Bresson, New York, 1952, p. [7]). Interestingly, the artist chose to reproduce our version in Minicam Photography, while the unchosen shot has become more widely used in his monographs. According to the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, the only other known vintage print of lot 8 is held in MoMA’s collection, which only contributes to the significance of this fascinating, rare photograph.

Cartier-Bresson’s Scrapbook illustrates sixteen versions of children playing by the gaping hole of Seville, Spain, of which lot 7 is arguably most well-known and the composition most aligned with Cartier-Bresson’s compositional aesthetic. This was one of only fourteen carefully selected images the artist chose for his seminal retrospective exhibition ‘The Decisive Moment: Photographs, 1930-1957’ which toured the United States from 1957 to 1960.

Descended within the family of a Minicam Photography editor who acquired the photographs in the 1940s, both photographs are historically compelling and true rarities on the market. Nearly all of Cartier-Bresson’s work began as journalistic reportage for photography magazines, which provided the artist financial support, entry to notable events and people, and perhaps most importantly, an audience (C. Cookman, ibid., pp. 394, 395). In light of this often overlooked fact, these press prints represent the genesis of this legendary artist’s career and the core of his oeuvre.

More from Photographs: The Evening Sale

View All
View All