While Bonhams have been selling vintage photographs for some time, this has previously been as part of their book department with the content focussing on fields such as social history or topography with their bi-annual India and Beyond auctions.
They have now appointed Jocelyn Phillips, who was a member of Sotheby’s photograph department from 2004 until last year, to head up the new stand-alone department.
She will be holding two sales per year in May and November, the dates when photo auctions have traditionally been held by the other London rooms.
Jocelyn Phillips said she expects to cover the same range of material as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but with a broader price range.
Bonhams’ book department will continue to offer appropriate photographic material (including the India and Beyond sales), but Ms Phillips will be working closely with them on sale content.
The addition of another player in the specialist photograph field should be a welcome one as it helps boost London’s profile as a centre for photography alongside New York and Paris.
With the cessation of Photo London, the capital’s main photography fair, and an increasing move towards contemporary work at auction, there could be a danger of London losing out to Paris, which still has the Paris Photo fair alongside its auction scene, as a magnet for the big American buyers who are so important in this field.
By Anne Crane