ERNEST J. BELLOCQ (1873–1949)
Storyville Portrait, New Orleans, c. 1910
gelatin silver print, printed c. 1949
credited and annotated 'UAP-121' in ink and pencil (verso)
image: 1214 x 978 in. (31.1 x 25 cm.)
sheet: 1378 x 11 in. (35.2 x 27.9 cm.)
Julie Saul Gallery, New York;
acquired from the above by the present owner, 2002.
Exhibition catalogue, E. J. Bellocq: Storyville Portraits, Photographs from the New Orleans Redlight District, c. 1915, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, pl. 23.
Al Rose, Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District, University of Alabama Press, Alabama, 1997, p. 165.
E. J. Bellocq, Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville, The Red-Light District of New Orleans, Random House, NY, 1996, pl. 17.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

This enchanting E. J. Bellocq portrait of a young woman framed by two hanging curtains with hand resting on an adjacent rail, is a rare print with an intriguing history. Bellocq was active from 1895-1940 and his portraits of prostitutes in the red-light district of Storyville, New Orleans have intrigued collectors and historians for decades. His portraits gave a glimpse into a forbidden world that is treated with such sensitivity and familiarity, it remains unclear whether the portraits were strictly personal, or for a commercial project.

Interest in the artist was revived when artist Lee Friedlander (B. 1934) purchased the artist's only surviving 89 glass plate negatives in 1966 and created rich posthumous prints on a printing out paper similar to that originally used by Bellocq. This print however, pre-dates prints made by Friedlander and sheds light on earlier investigation of Bellocq's work. Art dealers, authors and historians Larry Borenstein and Al Rose purchased Bellocq’s negatives in 1949, the same year the artist died. This print was likely the print used in Al Rose’s well-researched book Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District, 1974.

In October, 2023, this department offered a hitherto unknown and extremely rare lifetime print by Bellocq. That print is the largest known lifetime print by the artist and was tested with a date range of the late 1920s to 1930s clearly established. That work is thought to have been printed by Pops Whitesell. The print on offer here, originally sold through Julie Saul Gallery, was made sometime shortly after the artist’s death. Early prints as this rarely come to market.

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report