Two views dominated that group by their freshness and their rarity. I discussed them together in 2011. They are now for sale by Christie's in New York on February 17.
Here is my 2011 discussion, where I inserted the Vendôme results and the links to the next sale.
The early photographers were also experimentalists, searching for the ideal process to produce perfect images. Gustave Le Gray was among the first artists deciding to fully rely on photography, and his technical achievements were also considerable.
He was one of the five photographers entrusted in 1851 to record the architectural heritage of France. Then he took as an artistic theme the studies of trees in the forest of Fontainebleau. He made between 1856 and 1858 a series of views of Marines that are in many purposes the masterpieces of the photography of his time. He practiced at that time the format 30 x 40 cm from collodion glass negative.
The boats on water and the waves are excuses to freeze the time, with a realism that even the best paintings could not offer. The effects of backlighting and the cloudy skies are technical feats that required different exposure times, and for which the artist conceived the idea of working with separate negatives.
The consecration of this series at auction went at London on October 27, 1999 when the Great wave of the Jammes collection was sold for £ 507K including premium by Sotheby's.
The rarest view of the Vendôme sale shows a fleet of boats leaving the harbor of Le Havre in 1856 or 1857. It is a beautiful contre-jour, with a bright sky. It was sold for € 917K including premium and is illustrated on the page shared post sale by Le Monde. It is estimated $ 300K by Christie's, lot 18.
The other outstanding view is the Broken wave made in 1857 at Cette (now Sète). It is a remarkable instantaneous view in portrait format adorned with two small boats, but the sky is less expressive. It was sold for € 372K including premium at Vendôme and is now estimated $ 150K by Christie's, lot 38.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Le Havre : $ 970K
Cette : $ 137K