Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most renowned photographers of the twentieth century, considered by many to be the father of modern photojournalism and a “master of candid photography”. From 1967-1997, the majority of Cartier-Bresson’s beautiful black and white photographs were printed by Voja Mitrovic, a master printer at Picto, the famed Parisian photo lab. During the time they worked together, Cartier-Bresson presented Mitrovic with 28 inscribed prints, a number of which were never seen by the public. Now an upcoming auction at Christie’s has brought these wonderful, previously unseen photos into public view.
On October 4 & 5, Christie’s will be auctioning off all 28 inscribed prints and an additional four signed prints by Cartier-Bresson. The collection is being offered by Peter Turnley, an award winning photojournalist who acquired the prints from Mitrovic in 2004, shortly after Cartier-Bresson’s death. Turnley befriended both Cartier-Bresson and Mitrovic in the late 1970s when he began working as a printer at Picto. After Turnley became a successful photojournalist in his own right, Mitrovic began printing his images.
Turnley said that Mitrovic offered him the rare collection because Mitrovic knew he “would preserve not only the collection but also this beautiful story of [Mitrovic's] relationship with Cartier-Bresson.” Through the auction, Turnley says the public will “become even more aware of the important contribution that a great photographic printer can make to the visual and artistic expression of a photographer.”
As mentioned, the collection includes some very rare gelatin silver prints like “Friday Prayer, Srinagar, Kashmir” taken at the Mahdum Shah Ziarat mosque in 1948, which could go for $25,000-$35,000. It also contains a few iconic images that are sought-after by collectors, such as “Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare” (France, 1938), which is expected to sell for $30,000-$50,000, and “Rue Mouffetard” (France, 1954), pictured above, estimated at $20,000-$30,000. In total, Christie’s believe the collection will bring in more than $400,000.
Turnley said that he has spoken with Mitrovic about the auction and that the 75-year-old printer is “very excited that the world of photography will have a chance to come in contact with these prints.”
The collection will be offered alongside a number of other prints by some of the finest 19th century, modern, and contemporary photographers, so if you are a photography fan make sure to check out the Christie’s sale on their website.
French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson prints by master printer going to NYC auction [Washington Post]
Black and white but full of colour: The rare Cartier-Bresson photographs set to go under the hammer [Daily Mail]