The Wright Stuff Exceptional Frank Lloyd Wright Archive to Highlight Valentine's Day Auction

  • LOS ANGELES, California
  • /
  • January 20, 2010

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Bonhams & Butterfields

The Wright Stuff: Exceptional Frank Lloyd Wright Archive to Highlight Valentine's Day Auction at Bonhams & Butterfields

Included within the 400-lot Bonhams & Butterfields Fine Books &
Manuscripts auction on February 14, 2010 is a massive archive of
photographs, correspondence and select building plans related to
groundbreaking architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright.  Assembled by
Professor Henry Russell Hitchcock for the landmark 1942 treatise In the
Nature of Materials, which he co-authored with Wright, the archive
offers an exceptionally rich documentation of the architect's work
including notes for images of many buildings that no longer survive
(est. $20,000-30,000). 

Highlights from the archive include approximately 600 rare black and
white photographs of Wright's buildings and interiors; many derive from
the architect's own photographic collection.  Several of the interior
photographs show the original furnishings and the houses in daily use -
papers strewn across desks, tables set for dinner, and toys on the
floor.  Families can be seen standing proudly in front of their new
homes.  A number of photographs record buildings that no longer survive,
including one of Wright's own homes, Taliesin I (burnt beyond
recognition in 1914), Midway Gardens in Chicago (destroyed in 1929), and
the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (demolished in 1968).

Although the most of the photographers are uncredited, several have been
identified as from Oak Park, IL, and noted architectural photographers
Samuel H. Gottscho, Jamaica, NY, and G.E. Kidder-Smith of New York, have
been identified.  Several of the images boast annotations on verso and
are either stamped "Property of F.LL. Wright" or inscribed "FLLW." 

Hitchcock and Wright's book, In the Nature of Materials, was intended to
be a sort of ex post facto catalogue of the 1940 Museum of Modern Art
(MoMA) exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect - described by
the man himself as "the show to end all shows."  The Great Depression,
Wright's prolonged absence from the country, and his turbulent personal

life had resulted in a dearth of commissions for the first half of the 1930s.  At the time of the MoMA show, he was still at the opening of his
"second career," which had been revived by the Kaufmann house
(Fallingwater) and the Johnson office building.

In the Nature of Materials, published in 1942, was swiftly acknowledged
as a standard work on Wright and remained in print for nearly a quarter
century. Hitchcock had risen to prominence through the 1920s and early
30s, cementing his reputation with the 1932 International Style show at
the MoMA, co-curated with the architect Philip Johnson.  The year after
the book's publication, Wright was commissioned to design a permanent
home for the art collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation - a
project that occupied him for some fifteen years but resulted in one of
the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world.

The February 14, 2010 auction is timed to coincide with the California
ABAA Book Fair, held this year in Los Angeles, and will be simulcast
from the firm's Sunset Boulevard location to the San Francisco gallery.
For Fair attendees, Bonhams & Butterfields has gathered together a wide
variety of highlights in literature and Americana as well as a fine
selection of imprints on Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Additional items of note from the Valentine's Day auction will include
two broadsides of John Wilkes Booth's performances at the Boston Museum,
featuring "The Marble Heart," which was the show Lincoln saw Booth
perform in D.C. in November of 1863 (est. $1,000-1,500); a fine example
of Peter Force's 1848 printing of the Declaration of Independence (est.
$25,000-30,000) and a rare Abraham Lincoln letter thanking those who
helped celebrate former President Washington's birthday in 1862 (est.
$50,000-80,000); a copy of Charles Darwin's first published work, A
Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and
Beagle, 1839 (est. $20,000-30,000) and an archive of over 1000
theatrical scripts, plus contracts and correspondence from the files of
the American Play Company/Century Play Company, a major American
theatrical agency of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The
collection includes material by A.A. Milne, Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee
Willams, among many others (est. $120,000-180,000).

The illustrated catalogue will be available online for review and
purchase at in the weeks preceding the sale.

Previews: February 5-7, San Francisco (timed to coincide with the Walter
Larsen Book Fair); February 11-13, Los Angeles (timed to coincide with
the California ABAA Book Fair)

Auction: February 14, Los Angeles, simulcast to San Francisco


Press Contact:  Jannelle Grigsby, (310) 567-7990,

About Bonhams

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to (01-08) For other press releases, go to

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