Anne Elizabeth Horton, 80, of Warren Township, NJ (formerly of Chatham Borough, NJ and New York City ), passed away on December 19, 2020. Funeral services are private. Arrangements are by Wm. A. Bradley & Son.
Born in West Chester, PA, the daughter of William and Alma (Diehl) Spangler, Anne was raised in Chatham Borough where she graduated from high school in 1958. She lived in San Francisco and New York City before moving to Warren Township in 2017. Anne earned her PhB from Northwestern University in Chicago, her Masters from Hunter College in New York, and worked on her PhD with course work at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts.
Anne was crucial in the development of the market for fine art photographs, a category that had been largely ignored by the art world until the 1970s. In 1976, Anne launched the new photographs department at Sotheby’s New York, at a time when reference books were few and the audience for photography uncertain. It would be hard to underestimate the resources available to serious photographs historians and collectors in those early days, and hard to overestimate Anne’s contributions to this field.
In addition to at least two regularly-scheduled photographs auctions in New York City each year, Anne orchestrated a number of single-collection sales that are considered landmarks in the history of the market: the Baron de Meyer sale of October 1980, comprised of the contents of a then recently-discovered trunk of de Meyer’s work; a Cecil Beaton sale in November 1980; Photographs from the Collection of Robert Mapplethorpe in May 1982; Eugene Atget, also in May 1982; and perhaps most important, Italian Futurist Photographs in November 1982. Anne also broadened the market by holding at least one auction a year in Los Angeles in her early years as department head.
In 1984, Anne moved to San Francisco with her husband James Robert Horton, Jr. (“Bob”), an attorney, and headed the Sotheby’s office there while continuing to work from the West Coast on the New York photographs auctions. When Sotheby’s was looking for the right person to head a new department for Latin American paintings, the auction house tapped Anne because she had been so successful in creating an auction market for photographs. She headed the Sotheby’s Latin American department from circa 1985 to 1989, and was as successful with Latin American paintings as she had been with photographs. After leaving Sotheby’s, Anne went on to work for Christie’s, for the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and as an appraiser of estates and collections.
Anne was a perceptive and articulate writer about photography from every era. Her introductions to the Sotheby’s auction catalogues and her concise descriptions of individual works set a standard for the field. Her instinctive grasp of the importance of a photograph or a collection, its social context, and its aesthetic achievement were extraordinary. She was well-known to all of the key players in the photographs market at that time, among them Paul Walter, Sam Wagstaff, Robert Mapplethorpe, John Waddell, Weston Naef, Margaret Weston, Lee Witkin, and others. Inspired by her ready wit and quick insights, many became her personal friends. Her reputation as one of the “founders” of the modern photographs market is legendary. In 2018, her personal papers were donated to the Getty Research Institute, a part of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in Los Angeles.
Anne was predeceased by her beloved husband, Bob, who died in 2018. They were next door neighbors growing up in Chatham. They were inseparable since 7th grade, and married in 1961.They loved to travel the world, exploring other cultures, and visiting great museums and art galleries. However, they loved, in particular, New York City, where they made their home. They leave behind many friends here and overseas, who will miss their talent, charm, quick wit, and zest for life.
Anne is survived by her brother, William Spangler, of Westlake Village, California, and his wife, Sharlene: her brother-in-law, William Horton, of Peapack, New Jersey, and his wife, Linda; and her brother-in-law John Horton, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and his wife, Kimberly. She was predeceased by her brother-in-law, Channing Horton, also of Hendersonville, North Carolina.