As good as gold*
by Véronique Dupard-Mandel
published on February 1, 2023
Installed in the bubbling auction district, a stone's throw from the Hôtel Drouot, Charlotte Barthélémy welcomes us to her office.
That day, she is preparing the next online sale of the Yann Le Mouël house, “PHOTOGRAPHIE D'INGI (1915-2008)” a master of black and white photography.
Black and white are the colors that dominate the office… she herself is dressed all in black, outfit punctuated by a jewel-bracelet of red and silver braided leather and a touch of red on her lips.
Charlotte Barthélémy is part of the very small circle of photography experts. His favorite field covers the beginnings of photography until the years 2000/2010.
At 17, the young Charlotte only follows her instincts and enrolls at the Ecole du Louvre where she will make a decisive encounter. The school had just opened the photography specialty the previous year, Michel Frizot (historian and theoretician of photography) is a professor there. It's the click… Will follow a degree in Sorbonne and a master's thesis on Pierre de Fenoÿl photographer and first curator of photography at the Center Pompidou. Then she joined the Vivianne Esders expertise firm for 20 years and opened her office in 2019.
“The interest in my job is to touch the works, the eye is made with the permanent practice of looking at prints, albumen, charcoal, silver… Identifying the era. It is necessary to know the practice of the author… it is the trade. »
Her goals ? Explain to collectors the different values of a print:
Photography by principle is a multiple. Until the 1970s (except in the USA) there was practically no market for this art in Europe. Prints are produced for the press or publishing. There are also very few collector's prints. Agathe Gaillard did not open her gallery in Paris until 74. And we had to wait for the 1991 decree which stipulated that a photograph was original when it was on 30 copies, signed, all formats and all media combined. And in case of NFT, it takes a number of copies.
People therefore rely on the expert to know the value of their prints.
In her office, rue Drouot ©estheteplace
We produce about 10 sales per year with Maître Le Mouël, which is to say almost one per month. It's a lot of work: selecting the photos, writing the sheets, evaluating the state of conservation, online catalog and presenting the works in my office before the sale. Currently we are developing online sales, prices are more accessible even if some are reaching records equivalent to indoor sales, and the public is younger. For our last sale on the Internet, we totaled 117 buyers, 450 registered, it's huge!
His most beautiful story of expertise:
“An appointment with a collector for an appraisal of his collection of contemporary photographic works and I see a photograph on the wall that was not part of the lot. A signed photograph of Saul Leiter, which is very rare. The image sold for €12,000 at the sale. I'm not a merchant, I don't sell anything, except in after-sales, here nothing belongs to me, everything is entrusted to me for the auctions. I am a second market. »
And when asked if she is more Black and White or Color?
“Many Black and White except Saul Leiter, Sarah Moon, Garry Winogrand, Luigi Guirri, Nan Goldin, Joel Meyerowitz, Erwin Blumenfeld”…. Laughs …
Sale Saturday February 11 at 2 p.m.
Exhibition at the VU GALLERY
58 rue Saint-Lazare 75009 Paris
Wednesday 1st, Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd February: 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Expert: Charlotte BARTHELEMY SAS
17 rue Drouot 75009 PARIS
*" as good as gold" is an expression that appears in the 17th century. On the images, the iconography, the child represented is always motionless, calm, far from the hustle and bustle of life, cries, races, nonsense etc. "Wise as a picture" thus refers to an ideal child. By extension, it can apply to the adult world.