old books and literature
1474 The Wit of Play
2015 SOLD for £ 56K including premium
The movements are specific to every type of piece, creating a reflection of the real society in which combinations of roles are leading to the defeat of the enemy. Checkmate is a phonetic variant of the ancient Persian Shah Mat meaning King is lost.
Long before the rules of chess are frozen, the Dominicans are interested in its social and moral significance. Around 1300,Jacopo da Cessole wrote a short treatise significantly entitled Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium ac popularium super ludo scacchorum (book of manners of men and noble roles in relation to the popular game of chess). The author is more concerned in his sermon that in the game itself which is described only in the last chapter.
Jacopo's book is a success and translations appear early. When printers are seeking to vary the topics to expand their customer base, editions of this work are performed almost simultaneously in several European cities in 1473 and 1474. The Game and Playe of Chesse is perhaps the first printed book in English by Caxton after he installed his printing press in England.
On July 15 in London, Christie's sells a recently discovered copy of the highly rare first Latin edition of Jacopo's book, printed in 1474 in Utrecht, lot 81 estimated £ 50K.
1475 The Guide of Holy Dying
2014 SOLD for € 160K including premium by Artcurial
The plagues of the fourteenth century created a demographic disaster. The survivors do not understand their fate and are appealed by the heresies. The Ars Moriendi, a treatise on the art of dying as a good Christian, is written circa 1415 by an anonymous monk probably on the request of the Council of Constance.
A shorter version of the Ars Moriendi appears after 1450. The theme is limited to the temptations that constituted the second of the six sections of the full version. The first ten illustrations show successively each of the five temptations and the response that the believer must bring. On the eleventh and final picture, the man surrenders his soul that goes up to Christ in the symbolic form of the birth of a child.
A set of woodcuts from that period is signed by Master E. S., an artist who remains unknown beyond that identification. Demons and angels are trying to capture the attention of the dying under the concerned supervision of Christ, Virgin Mary and the saints in the presence of the Devil. The temptations are identified by short texts inside speech bubbles and by symbols. The printing of this book is entirely made from woodblocks at that time.
The first two editions that combined xylography and movable typography are made around 1475 by Nikolaus Götz in Cologne in a folio size 28 x 20 cm, using the Master E. S. woods. The Latin text is in Gothic types. The first edition included serious errors in the iconographic sequence that were corrected for the second edition.
This book is extremely rare. The only copy in private hands from the second edition of Götz was sold for € 160K including premium by Artcurial on 1 December 2014. This result far below the estimate may be a consequence of the suspension of that estate sale two years before.
This Ars Moriendi is now estimated € 200K for sale by Venator & Hanstein in Cologne on March 18, lot 641. Here is the link to the pdf catalog of the sale.
1476 Pliny Printed by Jenson
2011 SOLD 195 K€ before fees
On November 1 in Königstein near Frankfurt, Reiss sells a copy of the first edition in Italian of the Natural History by Plinius, printed in Venice in 1476 by Nicolas Jenson.
Estimated € 250K, this lot consists of two folio volumes, 42 x 28 cm, in a binder of the nineteenth century, for a total of just over 400 pages in a dense Roman typography adorned with a few illuminated initials.
It is the union of two of the top names of ancient European culture.
Pliny the Elder was a true scholar, who took care of citing sources. His Natural History is an encyclopedic introduction to the world, covering all subjects that can generate curiosity: astronomy, geography, animals, plants, minerals, arts.When the Renaissance began, the knowledge of Pliny, such as Ptolemy's, was precious. The following centuries preferred to mock his fantasies.
Jenson worked as a master to the French royal mint when he was sent to Mainz to study the art of Gutenberg. Based inVenice in 1468, he developed in 1470 the so-called Roman typography, whose extreme readability made it the best in the world. After his death in 1480, his technique and equipment were to be used by the Aldine Press.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting incunabula was sold € 195K before fees.
1499 Aldine Literature
2001 SOLD 360 K$ including premium by Christie's
Printing performed with movable types and illustrated with woodcuts is the wonder of the late fifteenth century. It was first applied for religious or scholarly editions. The use of these techniques to propagate the literature has been the glory of the printer Aldus Manutius, operating in Venice.
Specializing in Greek texts, Aldus also publishes Latin and Italian works. In 1499, with the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, he introduces a contemporary work in his productions.
The creation of the work is a mystery. The story takes place in 1467, and the narrator refers to himself as Frater Franciscus Columna. They do not like anonymous works in literature, and Francesco Colonna, on whom nothing is known, is now identified as the author.
In Italian language largely mixed with Greek, Latin, Hebrew and neologisms, this long romance is linked to both the courtly tradition of the Middle Ages and the erotic tradition of Boccaccio. The quality of the 172 engravings makes this book one of the masterpieces of the era of incunabula.
The text was hermetic, and influenced Rabelais. The book was a hard sell, and it was not until the edition of 1545 that it reached a wider audience.
A copy of the original edition of 1499 is for sale on December 2 by Christie's in New York. It makes a come back, because it had already been sold for $ 360K including premium in the same room on April 23, 2001. By comparison, the new estimate, $ 400K, is a bit ambitious.
1499 the know how of aldus manutius
The new phase actually begins in 1493 with the Nuremberg Chronicle. The art book was born. It is characterized by the careful composition that incorporates many engravings at their proper place in the text.
When Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) starts his business in 1494 in Venice, this city already has an established reputation for luxury book and clear typography. Aldus partners with the punchcutter Francesco Griffo to improve the Roman and Greek characters and try Hebrew and Arabic and even mathematical formulas. The leaning "italic" characters are added in 1501 to facilitate a differentiated reading.
Printed in 1499 in format 30 x 20 cm by Aldus for a sponsor named Leonardo Crasso, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili integrates 172 woodcuts cleverly arranged to assist in the understanding of the hermetic literary text.
The narration bears somewhere the date of 1467. Its author only identified by an acrostic has no biography. Constructed like a dream, the story is based on hidden references, perhaps understandable from some scholars in its time, to Pliny, Ovid and Boccaccio.
It could not become a bestseller though the invention therein of a false language between Latin and vernacular anticipates by half a century the freedom of language by Rabelais. Its edition at a key date in the history of the books rather meets the need to produce a demonstrator of the know how of the printer, with some blocks escaping the rectangular shape and with typographical inserts from various alphabets.
The success of the edition of 1545 will certainly be due to the increased interest of the bibliophiles for beautiful printed books assembled in luxurious bindings.
A copy printed in 1499 by Aldus was sold for £ 313K including premium by Christie's on July 7, 2010. It had been bound circa 1555 for Grolier. Another copy of the same edition is estimated € 150K for sale by Alde in Paris on May 24, lot 11. Complete, it even includes the often missing risqué image of the sacrifice to Priapus. Here is the link to the auction house's website.
1507 pleasures of hunting
2016 sold for € 520k including premium
Gaston is the sun king of his time and accepts the nickname Febus which will be re-spelled Phebus at the Renaissance. He loves pleasures and women and composes poetry. The comment of the chronicler Froissart who visits him in Orthez in 1388 or 1389 is extremely laudatory.
Gaston Febus is a great hunter. In 1387 and 1388 he composes in French one of the earliest hunting books in order to preserve and share his passion and his technique.
The princeps edition of the Livre de Chasse by Gaston Phebus is made circa 1507 in Paris by the very active bookseller Antoine Vérard under the title "Des deduiz de la chasse des bestes sauvaiges et des oyseaux de proye." The publisher joined a very long anonymous hunting poem titled "Roman des oyseaux" later identified as the work composed after 1359 by Gace de la Bigne at the request of King John the Good. "Deduits" is an obsolete word for "plaisirs".
This in-quarto 23 x 17 cm is illustrated with about 50 figures of animals and hunting scenes in woodcut. Some figures had been reused by Vérard from previous works and therefore are not related with an illuminated manuscript of the book. The text is printed in two columns.
A copy of this edition is estimated € 150K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 5, lot 212.
1530 The Passion of William Tyndale
2016 SOLD for $ 670K including premium
As early as 1524 he had chosen to go into exile on the Continent, for reasons of security, but also and especially because owning texts in Hebrew was forbidden in England since the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews in 1290.
Translated from Greek, the New Testament of Tyndale was published in 1526. The copies exported to England were burned by the bishop of London in dramatic humiliating processions of penitents which will in turn increase the notoriety of the translator.
Tyndale then worked on a translation of the Pentateuch directly from Hebrew which was published in Antwerp in 1530, reusing Holbein's woodcuts for an Old Testament published in Basel in 1524.
The Pentateuch of Tyndale is extremely rare. Only eight copies survive. The only one in private hands is estimated $ 300K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on December 5, lot 44.
Condemned for heresy by the inquisitor of Charles V, William Tyndale was strangled and burnt at Vilvoorde in 1536. He had written a pamphlet in 1530 against the first divorce of Henry VIII, but the king needed some moral support against his ecclesiastical opponents. As early as 1538 the use of the Tyndale Bible is recommended to all Englishmen.
1561 everything on stag hunting
2016 sold for € 267k including premium
Venery or its alternate wording fox (or stag or boar) hunting is a sport without competition, practiced by the gentry. It is neither an art nor a science and nevertheless the book published in 1561 byJaques du Fouilloux has all the qualities and the rigor of a scientific treatise.
La Vénerie by Du Fouilloux is structured in a logical and consistent sequence of 63 chapters accompanied by explanatory illustrations.
The success of hunting depends on the skill of the veneur (the huntsman) to communicate with the hounds, to lead his horse, to know the behaviors and even the tricks of the hunted animals. This book provides detailed informations and recommendations by the author who had unquestionably a full control of his subject.
The reader first learns the qualities of different varieties of dogs and how to choose the "lyce", meaning the female dog selected from the pack for breeding, and how to optimize the training of her pups. The next sections detail the hunting strategies for stag and wild boar and, more briefly, for hare, fox and badger. An addendum included from the first edition tells how to cure the dogs from their diseases.
A few places within the book are reserved for pasting a separately printed musical transcription of the hunting tones, also including the "huchement" of the shepherdesses, a French term now fallen in oblivion which designated the song emitted to call the animals.
Venery was favored at the time of King Charles IX and the book of Du Fouilloux got the success that it deserved. Four and a half centuries later it remains the perfect model for hunting treaties.
A copy of the first edition in small folio size 27 x 20 cm is estimated € 100K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 5, lot 71.
1572 Multilingual Bibles
2018 sold for £ 490k including premium
Christophe Plantin moves to Antwerp in 1549 as a bookbinder and becomes a printer in 1555 in that city.
The Bible of Alcala was out of date. It was criticized for being unequal, due to the difficulty of the publishing team to master the four languages. Moreover most of the copies had disappeared in a shipwreck and it had not been reissued.
Plantin has the idea of creating a new polyglot Bible based on the Alcala Bible. He exhibits some models of pages at the Frankfurt Fair in 1566 to find sponsors, putting in competition Catholics and Protestants. The project fascinates the King of Spain Philip II who is also the sovereign of the Netherlands. The king sends in 1568 his chaplain Benito Arias Montano to create a team of philologists and supervise the edition.
In the four languages as well as for the Syriac that has been added, the printer manages to choose the most beautiful available types, including the Hebrew characters used by Bomberg and Greek by Aldus. In the workshop four presses are used for five years.
For his personal use and to present to dignitaries, the king orders thirteen copies on vellum. These very luxurious books are finished in 1572 in folio 42 x 30 cm. Two volumes of thesaurus are not ready but their paper version may be added later.
Philip II had kept five copies for his personal use. They will remain grouped in the royal collection for more than two centuries, until King Charles III shares them among his sons. The youngest son's copy, 6 volumes bound in 11 books, is estimated £ 400K for sale by Christie's in London on July 11, lot 152. It is the last copy on vellum remaining in private hands. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Don’t miss a chance to view the Deluxe Biblia Regia at the Plantin Museum in Antwerp today and tomorrow. If you can't make it, watch the story of the finest Bible in all of Christendom online https://t.co/77235RCPw6. It will be offered in our sale on 11 July during #ClassicWeek pic.twitter.com/ranMWsPAEQ— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) June 21, 2018
1632 the second folio
2016 sold for $ 178k including premium
This edition is luxurious, in 900 pages 32 x 21 cm. Technically, it is a folio in which the sheets are assembled with a single fold without being cut again. This edition, the most prestigious from all English literature, is designated as the First Folio.
In 1632, the rights of the first group of investors had been transferred to booksellers who prepare the Second Folio.
In its size, the Second Folio is similar as the First Folio. Many corrections are made, which sometimes generate small errors. Shakespeare's epitaph by Milton is added. The investors receive from the printer a number of books in proportion to their share. Their name which is printed under the Droeshout figure enables to assess whether a book is a first issue of the Second Folio.
A copy of the Second Folio with the imprint of Robert Allot, the major shareholder of this operation, was discussed previously in this column. It was listed for sale by PBA Galleries on February 8, 2010. Some stains and repairs were described in the catalog.
On February 14 in Pasadena, PBA Galleries sells another copy, with the rarer imprint of the bookseller William Aspley. This book in a handsome condition is estimated $ 200K, lot 99.
1632 SHAKESPEARE II
During the lifetime of Shakespeare, his works were published as small popular in quartos, whose lack of prestige is one reason that some doubts were later expressed about the authorship of his works.
In the entourage of King's Men, the company of actors who performed his plays, they soon realized the tremendous value of this author in the renewal of tragedy and comedy.
In 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, was published the First Folio, the first edition of the complete works, with the famous engraving showing his portrait. This monument in the history of English literature brings together 36 plays of which half had been unpublished before.
The theater was meant to be played, not to be read. It may seem surprising today that only three folio editions of
Shakespeare's complete works were published throughout the seventeenth century, in 1632, 1664 and 1685.
A copy of the Second Folio (1632) is for sale on February 8 by PBA Galleries in San Francisco. This prestigious book is estimated $ 200K. The catalog including six images is shared by the auction house, lot 146.
1663 the bible translated into massachuset
2016 sold for $ 275K including premium
King Charles I is executed in January 1649. On 27 July, the Parliament issues the Act for the Promotion and Propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England. The natives are now regarded as human beings who must be prevented from going astray. The missionaries will be financed by a new English Corporation without the intervention of the colonial administration.
Living in Massachusetts Bay Colony since 1631, John Eliotdevoted his entire long life to the evangelization of the Indians. The Massachuset language has nothing in common with English and is not written. Eliot understands that it is illusory to use English to convert the natives. He creates a phonetic transcription of a local Massachuset dialect, the Natick, and endeavors to translate the Geneva Bible.
This work makes Eliot busy for fourteen years. The New Testament is ready in 1661 and the Old Testament two years later. Meanwhile, in the following to the Bay Psalm Book published in Cambridge in 1640, printing gets developed in America. John Eliot's Natick Bible is printed in 1663 on a new press installed in 1659, also in Cambridge.
This Indian Bible is the very first Bible printed in America. It is also, and above all, the only example of a book printed to establish the communication with an illiterate group. The only comparable achievement is the translation of the Bible into Gothic language by Ulfilas 1300 years earlier, long time before printing.
Eliot had been right and the success of his Bible is considerable. In 1674, the Christian population within the Massachuset Indians is estimated at 1,400 people, converted by the Bible translated for their use by Eliot.
This book was published for intensive use and most copies were read to ruin. A clean copy that can only be blamed for some paper discoloration is estimated $ 175K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on December 5, lot 140.
1667 MOLIERE SIGNED IT
2008 SOLD 396 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
The lot 1166 from the sale of Bonhams and Butterfields on October 15 in Los Angeles is composed of three manuscripts of lawyers concerning Molière and his family. The most remarkable of the three includes the signature of the writer: "JB Poquelin Molière." It is an act dated 1667 authorizing an intermediary to raise funds to repay a loan.
The documents signed by Molière and his autograph manuscripts are so rare that they may be considered unavailable on the market. By searching in the databases at their disposal, the auction house did not find any other signature, with the exception of a previous auction of the same document, in 1860.
At the time, it obtained the second highest price at auction for a signature in France. That date of 1860 interested me. It is indeed at that time that Vrain-Lucas began to manufacture fake autographs for sale to the naive and noteworthy scientist Chasles, who quickly was in possession of documents in old French language that were signed Pythagoras or Cicero, among others ...
Back to Molière, whose authenticity of the document is of no doubt. It was placed high in the auction results at the time when high curiosity started about such documents, because it was already considered as an extreme rarity.
Now, despite reddish spots, the consignment is estimated at 40 K$.
POST SALE COMMENT
Whatever the category of object, it is almost impossible to predict a price on a lot when it is almost unique in the market.
Molière also has a unique place in French literature and even global. The price is what is worth for its originality and scarcity: 330 K $ before fees.
1707 A Project for Fair Taxes
Vauban is a man of the popular class, born in a family of small rural nobility. A mathematician and economist, he has constantly in mind the protection of his soldiers and the prevention of food shortages. To teach an example of a good management of wealth, he calculates that a sow can give six million descendants in twelve generations even if we take away the wolf's share.
He is upset by the fermiers, the financiers and the businessmen who produce nothing but their own wealth by taking advantage of a complicated and fragmented tax system. In 1694, influenced by Boisguilbert, Vauban proposes to replace all these taxes with a 'capitation' based on visible wealth with a gradual rate up to the dixme (tenth), to be paid directly to the state.
Vauban's proposal would ruin all intermediaries. Cleverly the ministry implements the capitation, but as a levy that is added to all the others. Vauban is still a zealous servant of King Louis XIV who appoints him Maréchal de France at his request in 1703.
Vauban is old and sick. He now receives only minor commands and becomes embittered. He feels he is losing his influence and wants to act quickly. He asks to publish his Projet d'une Dixme Royale and ignores a first refusal. At the beginning of 1707 he makes it printed anonymously in about 300 copies that will be distributed without being marketed.
This time Louis XIV is furious. Vauban's ideas are not disputed but he appears as a traitor who interferes with the workings of the state. On February 14 the King's Council ordered that the copies are seized and scrapped. Vauban died on March 30.
Few copies from this first issue have survived. One of them has been enriched with four autograph pages by Vauban proposing other bold developments. This book is estimated € 180K for sale on November 14 in Paris - Drouot by OVA Aristophil operated for this sale by Aguttes, lot 13.
#COLLECTIONSARISTOPHIL - #vente du 14 novembre à 14h à Drouot !— Aguttes (@Aguttes_) October 22, 2018
Vente de littérature partie I : Livres rares
SEBASTIEN LE PRESTRE DE VAUBAN, Projet d'une dixme royale
Estimation : 180 000 - 200 000€
Plus d'informations : https://t.co/yNGpPGDXWl #Aguttes #ova #aristophil pic.twitter.com/1kMBSDBLXm
1758 The Epistolary Novel by Rousseau
2018 sold for € 480k including premium
Rousseau conceived in 1756 an epistolary novel in six parts. The love of Julie and Saint-Preux cannot go on because of their social difference. The young woman's parents force a socially acceptable marriage to which she resigns herself. The former lovers avoid falling into adultery.
This whole story is told by letters exchanged between the various characters. The young man confides his feelings to a Milord and the young woman to a cousin. The first title is too long : Lettres de deux amans, habitans d'une petite ville aux pieds des Alpes. The novel will become famous in its subtitle, Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse, by reference to the thwarted love of Héloïse and Abélard.
The six parts of the author's personal autograph manuscript were separated into several sets during the French Revolution. The Third Part was sold for € 384K including premium by Sotheby's on June 27, 2007. It is estimated € 400K for sale on November 14 in Paris - Hotel Drouot by OVA Aristophil operated for this sale by Aguttes, lot 207.
This part is complete of its 26 letters. It consists of 110 pages recto in a 24 x 18 cm quarto. It had been lent, probably at the beginning of 1758, to Madame d'Houdetot who was nervous with the gossips from that cumbersome lover whom she will soon call "an interesting madman". Rousseau will say later in a surprising lucidity : "We were drunk with love one and the other, she for her lover, me for her".
The manuscript was later enriched by Rousseau within the text and on the opposite pages with the 900 handwritten corrections that lead to the first edition published in Amsterdam in 1761. The author had begun in 1758 for his publisher another complete and conformant manuscript, without erasures, which is the terminus ante quem of the preparation of the final draft.
The novel enthused its readers because the epistolary style associated a real language to a deep emotion. Its social analysis disturbed the Church which banned it in 1806. The philosopher novelist had achieved his goals.
#COLLECTIONSARISTOPHIL - #vente du 14 novembre !— Aguttes (@Aguttes_) November 14, 2018
Rejoignez-nous à partir de 14h00 en salle 1 à @Drouot_paris !
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU, Manuscrit autographe LA NOUVELLE HELOÏSE
Estimation : 400 000 - 500 000€
Découvrez le catalogue de vente :https://t.co/HI7MqR2G7s pic.twitter.com/P7gdzqfhUK
1776 THE SERMON OF AN ENGLISHMAN TO THE AMERICANS
2013 SOLD 550 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
A simple English parish agent from a small town in Sussex was to become the clearest and most influential voice of the American Revolution. Thomas Paine was a Republican, opposed to the monarchy of the Georges. In 1772, he wrote his first political pamphlet calling to the English Parliament for social reforms.
Always attentive to all the talented people who can help his cause, Benjamin Franklin invited him to Philadelphia, where he arrived in 1774.
His first American pamphlet is the masterpiece of the genre. In 48 pages 18 x 11.5 cm, this anonymous book was published on January 10, 1776 in 1000 copies under the title "Common Sense, Addressed to the Inhabitants of America."
The speech is relentless. Monarchies are harmful, England is too far and too brutal to be useful to the Americans, the solution is independence. Paine's genius is to have written the text as if it were a sermon, in a simple languageunderstandable by all.
It was an instant success. Within one year, the number of sold copies probably reached half a million, and the UnitedStates of North America declared their independence. Paine had taught to all his readers a common understanding of the progress that they could expect from the Revolution.
Of course, the remaining copies of the edition of January 10, 1776 are very rare. One of them is estimated $ 400K, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on June 4. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Great price for this clean copy: $ 550K including premium.
1785 the scroll of the bastille
Transferred in 1784 to the Bastille after a reassignment of the dungeon of Vincennes, Sade is then nobody more than Monsieur le 6 according to the number of his cell. His energy and his hate have not weakened and a liberation is unthinkable. He will never retrieve the freedom of Gilles de Rais or Elisabeth Bathory. He becomes a writer. He wants to be the most impure of all writers.
His first project of book is a catalog of perversions for which he is inspired by the narrative structure of the Decameron. In an abject absence of humanism, girls and boys are toys of torture and death for the sexual pleasure of the masters. The title, Les 120 Journées de Sodome, is an allusion to the 1,001 Arabian Nights.
In October 1785 the draft of the first part is finished. Despite his isolation, Sade fears a confiscation. He copies his text into a tiny and tight writing on 11.3 cm narrow sheets. The set to be kept in a tube is an assembly of 33 sheets glued end to end for a total length of 12.10 m. The top sheets of the roll are inscribed on both sides.
Sade had worked for no result. A few days before the Bastille day of July 14, 1789 he manages through the bars of his cell to add his vociferation within the growing popular discontent. His presence at the Bastille is considered as a threat to security and he is transferred to the hospice of Charenton without being allowed to take anything with him. He will never see again this manuscript of his most atrocious frenzies.
Long considered as lost, the manuscript is the subject of a first edition by a German psychiatrist in 1904. Recovered by a descendant of Sade, it is stolen in 1982 and acquired by a collector of erotic literature, legally under Swiss law and illegally according to French law. Its purchase by the Aristophil company with significant monetary compensation to all involved parties was acclaimed by the press in 2014.
This scroll unique in its theme, format, author and history is a major piece in the liquidation of Aristophil. It is estimated € 4M for sale by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 20, lot 39. Please watch the video shared by Aguttes. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
#LT : Pièce phare des Collections #Aristophil : le rouleau manuscrit « Les 120 journées de Sodome ou l'école du Libertinage » rédigé par le Marquis de Sade dans les cellules de la prison de la Bastille. Estimation 4 000 000 / 6 000 000 € pic.twitter.com/z1zFkL8QsQ— claude Aguttes (@CAguttes) November 14, 2017
1807 The Ashes of Florbelle
2015 SOLD for € 400K including premium
He is passionate about drama and about atheistic philosophy and he loudly denounces the Christian morals. Freed during the Révolution, he is violently opposed to Robespierre's supreme being and narrowly escapes the executions of Fouquier-Tinville. This fervent revolutionary leaves without regret his aristocratic title.
His great work combining pornography and philosophy, the 120 Journées de Sodome, is lost during the events of the Bastille. It will resurface long after the author's death. In 1807 at the insane asylum of Charenton, he completes a vast trilogy entitled Les Journées de Florbelle, intended to compensate the loss of his Sodome.
Alerted by this new risk of scandal, his son immediately makes seized by the police this new novel that will be burned in his presence in 1814 just after the death of the author. Beyond the sexual excesses and the blasphemies, Sade had brought a freedom of writing that was to influence Baudelaire, Flaubert, Breton and many others, and this irreparable loss is unfortunate for the history of French literature.
An autograph notebook written by Sade has survived. In 17 folios, the author clarifies for himself the message that he wants to forward in Florbelle. This incorrigible libertine who is reduced to impotence by obesity and internment finds even a moral justification by quoting Seneca: "It is by displaying bare vice that we bring back to virtue".
This notebook is estimated € 300K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in collaboration with Sotheby's France in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 11, lot 56.
1808 WILLIAM BLAKE, THE LAST BIBLICAL PROPHET
Claiming from his childhood of being a visionary, William Blake endeavoured to express the relationship between the natural and the supernatural, based on the Bible. Curiously close to the free thinkers, he rejected the dogma and the liturgy. In a highly original approach he was altogether an artist, an illustrator and a poet, with great power in each of these modes of expression.
In 1808, he executed on order a watercolor on the theme of the Last Judgment. Highly inspired by the subject, hemade a work worthy of Bosch, with plenty of figures in a very balanced composition.
He described this work in great detail in a four-page letter to the painter Ozias Humphry who had obtained that order for him.
This prose is of superb concision and clarity. Nearly two thousand years ago, Blake's poetry would have been a serious competitor to the Apocalypse of St John. The autograph writing is remarkably calm and legible compared with the passion expressed by his graphic art, but perhaps also as a courtesy to Humphry who was almost blind.
The copy sent to Humphry is estimated £ 50K, for sale by Bonhams in London on March 29 and illustrated in the press release shared by Artdaily. Two other copies are known, one that accompanied the delivery of the watercolor artto the patron, and the other dated a month later.
1808-1821 LETTERS FROM LORD BYRON TO A GOOD MIND
2009 SOLD 277 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
We are told that he was the greatest English poet. This glory must necessarily qualify an uncommon temperament.
In 1885 at Sotheby's, the Earl of Rosebery bought a correspondence sent by Byron to Francis Hodgson. These documents reappear in the same auction house in London on October 29.
The young men had met in 1807 during literary discussions. Francis was attracted to religion and Byron by the discovery of the world and all its infamy. The letters date from 1808 to 1821, totaling 71 pages, and thus cover the entire period of the trips of sexual discovery and of the access to literary fame.
Byron tackles all moral, social, political and literary subjects with his friend. Because of their different approaches to life, he does not hesitate to push his arguments to extremes, at risk or for the delight of shocking, which provides the set with an exceptional interest for understanding the Byronic thought .
Contemptuous up to misanthropy, cynic, Byron looks for his way. He found it in his commitment to the freedom symbolized by the war of Greek independence. There he died.
It is difficult to predict the price of such a lot. Sotheby's expects 150 K£.
POST SALE COMMENT
Exceptional lots still find buyers, and will always have buyers. 277 K £ including premium for this series of autograph letters of Byron.
Here is a photo of that lot, shared post sale by Artdaily.
1820 DEATH OF A POET
2011 SOLD 96 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
John Keats could not get out of adolescence. We must keep the memory of a nice young man whose odes are amongthe purest masterpieces of English literature.
John had a talent for language. He used the right word, the most delicate expression, the musical phrasing, with such a natural that his letters are considered as beautiful as his poetry.
Those who idealize the romantic era are wrong. Death lurks. Tuberculosis has killed several of his relatives, and in February 1820, when he spits his first drop of blood, John immediately knows that he is lost. He was 24 years old, hehad one year left to live.
John is aware of the risk of contagion. He can no longer meet Fanny, his fiancee, of whom he is madly in love. Hesends letters to her with all the sensibility of a great poet.
39 letters from John to Fanny were preserved. The only one remaining in private hands is estimated £ 80K, for sale by Bonhams in London on March 29. It is illustrated on the press release shared by Artdaily.
Despite the frustration caused by his isolation, John had made the right decision. Fanny did not contract the disease.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold £ 80K before fees, 96K including premium, this terrible document from one of the best English poets therefore remained at its low estimate. No more ...
1847-1848 Literary Experiment in Four Hands
2016 SOLD for € 540K including premium
To write and to publish, anybody must find some innovative theme. With the one year younger Maxime Du Camp, Gustave explores Brittany from May to July 1847, walking with backpack. This province where the coasts are superb is not yet fully civilized : the two hikers can think about the origins and evolution of civilization.
Upon returning the two authors set to work with a new method. The essay entitled Par les champs et les grèves (Voyage en Bretagne) will follow the trip but it is shared : Gustave takes the odd chapters and Maxime the even. Through several months they prepare their parts in the same room at Croisset, exchanging ideas and impressions.
When the work is complete, two full copies are made and each writer retains his autograph draft. At this point they wisely forgo publication, going to the evidence that the text would require deep changes before being able to interest some readers in their observations and digressions.
The first manuscript written by Flaubert shows that the creation was not linear. The real purpose of their work was the literary perfection : erasures and changes are countless. The later manuscripts of Flaubert will keep this obsession up to the extreme limit of illegibility.
This manuscript of 277 folio pages is signed by Flaubert and dated January 3, 1848. This date indicates a decision of completion by the authors but it is quite possible that some reworks are later. This Flaubert document which obviously does not include the even chapters by Du Camp will be sold by Pierre Bergé et Associés in association with Sotheby's in Paris (Drouot) on November 8, lot 351 estimated € 400K.
1850 the beautiful love of elizabeth barrett
2017 sold for $ 215K including premium
Elizabeth was a child prodigy. She wrote her first verses at the age of 4 and learned Greek and Hebrew in order to read ancient poets and sacred texts in their original version. Poetry is for her the expression of the Truth beyond the Unknown. Deeply believing, she feels the mystical Love.
Preparing at the age of 27 in 1833 a translation of the Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, Elizabeth analyzes in her own right the conflicts and empathies between the hero and the god, seeking the deep root of Love in the pre-Christian sensitivity of the old poet.
She is the eldest daughter of a landowner whose family had made a fortune in the West Indies. Her too possessive father demands celibacy to his many children. Perhaps in reaction against such a restriction to her sentimental future, Elizabeth develops extremely progressive views about the abolition of slavery and the status of women.
On March 9 in New York, Bonhams sells several working manuscripts by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In her small handwriting close to unreadability, the numerous reworks show her search for perfection : some modifications of the manuscript were indeed subsequent to the published text.
Lot 3, estimated $ 400K, is her handwritten notebook dated 1837 containing about 20 poems, more than half of which will be published in the following year under the title The Seraphim and other poems. In the form of a dramatic poem wishing to imitate Aeschylus, Elizabeth Barrett imagines the observation of the Passion of Christ by the angels.
Lot 4, estimated $ 40K, is a copy of ancient English poems collected around 1840 to suggest some themes of illustrations to a watercolorist friend.
Lot 5, estimated $ 200K, is the preparation in 1850 of her second translation of the Prometheus. Elizabeth considered that her work made in 1833, too literal, did not reflect the poetic impulse of Aeschylus.
Lot 6, estimated $ 180K, is the preparation in 1860 of a collection of poems titled Poems before Congress requiring the independence of Italy where Elizabeth and Robert were living since 1846.
Elizabeth died in 1861 in the arms of her husband after suffering a life-long disabling illness that doctors were unable to identify and cure. Robert reported that her last word in a last smile, the ultimate testimony of a great mind, was "Beautiful".
1850 Prometheus SOLD for $ 215K including premium
Other lots unsold
1857 Inscribed by Flaubert to the Maître
2015 SOLD for € 368K before fees
Flaubert admired Balzac. He undertook in 1851 a great romantic and psychological novel. The tragic theme will shock the bourgeoisie of the Second Empire: the expectation for worldly life of a young provincial woman gradually and inevitably leads to her suicide. After five years of work, Madame Bovary appears as a feuilleton (series) in La Revue de Paris from October to December 1856.
The censors do not like it, and a lawsuit is filed in February 1857 for "outrage à la morale publique et religieuse et aux bonnes moeurs" (insulting public and religious morals and lifestyle), an accusation that a contrario demonstrates the literary innovation of the young writer.
Flaubert and La Revue de Paris are acquitted and the first edition of the book is published in two tomes (parts) in 1857. Some deluxe copies are printed on strong vellum. One of them, probably the most precious of all, is estimated € 400K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in collaboration with Sotheby's France in Paris (Drouot) on December 11, lot 84.
This copy was inscribed by Flaubert to Victor Hugo who is only referred as le Maître. Flaubert admires Hugo's literary breath while admitting that he also has weaknesses. Hugo is in Guernsey from where he throws a critical eye on the regime of Napoléon III, and he is thus a symbol of hope for the revival of French literature.
The book was bound in a single volume by Chambolle-Duru, certainly on commission by Victor Hugo. It now contains also two manuscripts added by a later owner: a letter by Flaubert to Schlesinger just after his acquittal where the writer expresses his disgust at the unwanted scandal that he had caused, and four autograph pages for Madame Bovary characterized by a high density of erasures, additions and remorses typical of his complex process of creativity.
1858 ANDERSEN FOUND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE
"De Vises Steen", composed and published in 1858, is not the most famous of Andersen's tales, but it is probably one of the most mystical.
The Wise man has four sons and a blind girl who visit Earth in search of Truth, Good and Beautiful. The boys do not succeed, by sight, by hearing, by smell, by taste. The girl gets the word of the oracle: Believe.
The autograph manuscript of this fairy tale of Andersen is probably the last in private hands. It is also one of the longest with its thirteen closely written pages, and it includes the own corrections of the author.
Andersen had given the philosopher's stone, or more precisely this manuscript, to a friend who had hosted him. The family kept until 1999 the precious document, which has remained in very good condition. It is estimated kr 2.5 million, for sale on November 30 in Copenhagen by Bruun Rasmussen.