Newport ARt Museum

The Newport Art Museum has announced a very special auction item available for absentee bidding by phone beginning June 22, 2016.  Final bidding will occur during the Live Auction at the Newport Art Museum’s Beaux Arts Ball on July 2, 2016.

The Gilman Paper Company Collection:

The Gilman Paper Company Collection is widely regarded as the world’s finest collection of photographs. Over the course of two decades (roughly 1977-1997) the Chairman of the Gilman Paper Company, Howard Gilman, a Dartmouth College graduate, and his curator Pierre Apraxine, acquired over 8,500 iconic works of photography, dating primarily from the first century of the medium, 1839-1939.

In 2005, the collection was acquired through purchase by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, complemented by a generous gift from the Howard Gilman Foundation. A legal agreement between the museum and the Howard Gilman Foundation prohibited disclosing the dollar value. Although, Hans Kraus, a Manhattan photography dealer, said the collection’s value on the open market could exceed $100 million. “In terms of its importance and breadth, it is unparalleled as a private collection,” he said.

With exceptional examples of 19th-century French, British, and American photographs, as well as masterpieces from the turn-of-the-century and modernist periods, the Gilman Collection has played a central role in establishing photography’s historical canon and has long set the standard for connoisseurship in the field. In addition to many unique and beautiful icons of photography by such masters as Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton, Nadar, Gustave Le Gray, Mathew Brady, Carleton Watkins, Edward Steichen, and Man Ray, the Gilman Collection includes extensive bodies of work by numerous pioneers of the camera.

The Collection also includes fine examples of Lewis Carroll’s photographs of children, most notably his portrait of the girl made famous by his Alice stories, Alice Liddell as “The Beggar Maid” (ca. 1859). Slavery, the abolitionist movement, and the Civil War are represented in a deep and nuanced way. Among the works centered on this theme are a rare and particularly sensitive portrait showing the 51-year-old Abraham Lincoln in Springfield soon after he received his first nomination for the presidency; an anonymous portrait of an unknown African-American youth that, for the period, is a surprisingly noble representation.

The Gilman Book – a miniature museum of the history of photography

This book is an Original Edition, one of 1200 numbered copies. The book consists of 200 photo-offset lithographs of photos from the collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Richard Benson made halftones directly from the Gillman Collection originals and over a 4-year period, he and Thomas Palmer plated them in the basement of 53 Tilden Avenue, Newport, RI. Each print is done in multiple impressions, some times as many as nine, and all the inks were hand mixed by eye.

The photo-offset lithographs were printed, on white wove paper, and bound in Italy in an ‘elephant’ folio with linen sides and matching linen slipcase. The book contains 480 pages with 1⁄4 calf (burgundy Moroccan leather) binding of red and title in gold lettering on the spine.

The structure and conception of the book come from Pierre Apraxine, who was Gilman’s curator. Apraxine put the collection together and oversaw the complex issues of producing the book and therefore is the real author of this remarkable volume. Lee Marks was the chief researcher and assistant curator for the Gilman collection and was responsible for the great notes in the back of the book.

Gilman Book details 

White Oak Press, 1985. Pierre Apraxine. Richard Benson and Thomas Palmer.

Overall, 46.355 x 39.37cm (18 1/4 x 15 1/2in.); Images range from 8.9 x 7cm (3 1/2 x 2 3/4in.) to: 38.1 x 29.2cm (15 x 11 1/2in.)

Richard Benson CV

Richard Benson is a MacArthur Fellow and the former Dean of the Yale School of Art. A photographer, printer and collector, he has devoted a considerable part of his career to research in photomechanical reproduction. As a printer Benson was instrumental in developing the technologies presently used in the industry to reproduce photographs in ink. He has taught many workshops and given many lectures on photography, printing and their associated technologies. He is the co-author of Lay This Laurel (Eakins Press) with Lincoln Kirstein and A Maritime Album (The Mariner’s Museum of Newport News, Virginia) with John Szarkowski. His photographic work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and many other institutions and private collections.


Purchased with discretionary funds from Yale University President Richard C. Levin in honor of Richard Benson, Dean of the Yale University School of Art.

Minimum Bid:

$2,500 with increments of $200

All proceeds from the sale will benefit the arts programming of the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI

Absentee Bids:

Absentee phone bids will be taken by Callie Clarke at the Newport Art Museum, (401) 619-7983 beginning Wednesday, June 22. Phone bids will not be taken over the weekend of June 25 and 26. Absentee bidding will continue from Monday, June 27 through July 1. All phone bids should be made between 9:30am and 5pm EST. Absentee bidding will end at 5pm EST on July 1. Bidding will continue at the Newport Art Museum’s live auction on July 2 at approximately 7:30pm

The Newport Art Museum is located at 76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. Visit or call (401) 848-8200 for details.