December 5th, 2008

carole lombard 05
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The importance of portraits Ernest

Over the past week, during our review of Carole Lombard items at Profiles In History's upcoming auction of Hollywood memorabilia, one group of numbers has come up regularly -- "$200-$300." That's the expected starting bids on most of these 54 lots of Lombard merchandise, although many of them, such the autographed photos of both Carole and second husband Clark Gable, will likely go for a whole lot more.

There is one notable exception, however. For this item, take the above "$200-$300" and add a zero to each of those numbers. Here's the memorabilia in question:



What makes this so valuable? For one thing, it's a fairly rare image. For another, it's an exhibition print, signed by the photographer who took the shot, Ernest A. Bachrach. His signature can barely be made out under the lower right-hand corner, so here is a larger version:



Bachrach was RKO's chief photographer for many years; his subjects included Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. This is marked "39," meaning he took it in 1939, not long after Lombard signed with RKO.

As for the photo itself, Profiles In History describes it as "Gelatin silver matte borderless double-weight 15 in. x 20 in. (image size 10 ¼ in. x 13 in.) exhibition print (custom mounted on to 8-ply board)," so it's meant to be as exquisite as its subject. Here's what the photo looks like on its own:



Bachrach took several portraits of Carole during her time at RKO, and this would certainly rank among his best. If you're one of the few folks not affected by the recent economic downturn and you'd be interested in bidding, go to http://www.profilesinhistory.com/new/index.php?option=com_auctions&catid=33
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