Iconic Man Ray photograph sets auction record for its category

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Defining Image of Twentieth-Century Surrealism, Man Ray’s The Violin of Ingres fetched $12.4 million at Christie’s New York on Saturday – surpassing the previous record price for a photograph sold at auction. The original image was part of the Surreal World of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs and Melvin Jacobs sale which raised more than $42.3 million in total for the couple’s collection.

Based on Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Bather of ValpinçonMan Ray’s black-and-white photograph of a seated nude woman transforms her back into a violin with the addition of overlapping f-holes.

The famous image, estimated to be worth at least $5 million, was hammered for $10.5 million after a bidding battle, eventually selling for $12.4 million after fees. The result was three times higher than the previous record for a photograph, previously set by Andreas Gursky’s Rhine IIsold for $4.3 million in 2011 at Christie’s New York.

Created in 1924, the photo of Man Ray captures his lover at the time, Alice Prin, known as the Queen of Montparnasse or Kiki de Montparnasse. She was a popular muse for many avant-garde male artists of the 1920s, including Japanese artist Tsuguharu Foujita, whose Reclining nude (Kiki’s nude portrait) also celebrated it.

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