Literature and Writers
Chronology : 1460-1479 1620-1629
1315-1323 The Illuminated Graal
2010 SOLD 2.4 M£ inluding premium
But the Saint Graal (Holy Grail) is still better than any other secular theme. This search for truth brings into action the kings, the knights, with the morals of that time that included the courtly love. The strength of this first real novel in Western literature is precisely the fact that without contradicting the Bible it does not imitate it in any way.
The manuscript in French bound in three volumes which is for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 7 has been copied and illuminated in Flanders or Artois between 1315 and 1323. This specimen is known as the Rochefoucauld Grail assuming that it was done at the request of the head of this very ancient aristocratic family.
Well studied by medievalists, this beautiful book is illustrated with more than 100 miniatures and nearly 100 large initials. One of its miniatures adorns the press release shared by Artdaily. It is in large format, 405 x 295 mm. Somebody calculated that it took 200 cows to supply its 450 vellum leaves. It is estimated £ 1.5 M.
POST SALE COMMENT
Ancient manuscripts are sometimes difficult to sell. We therefore welcome the success of this one at £ 2.4 million including premium, in the region of the higher estimate.
1443 The Book of the Emperor Sigismund
2009 SOLD 1.15 M£ including premium
Thus, Eberhard Windeck wrote the chronicle of Emperor Sigismund, powerful monarch and master of the Germanic territories, whose reign was troubled by the Hussite crisis. He devotes an extract to Joan of Arc, in remembrance of the return of a messenger between the Emperor and the Maid of Orleans.
It is a heavily illustrated manuscript, whose original edition is known in two copies. One is dated 1443. The other is on sale at Sotheby's in London on July 7 and estimated 1 million pounds. Its condition has some significant flaws.
It is a large book of over 300 sheets, 40 x 26 cm. The image is as important as the text: 174 illustrations, many in full page, show big and small events of the reign.
The publisher is known: Diebold Lauber, head at Hagenau (Haguenau) in Alsace of an important workshop of copyists and illustrators and thus a pioneer in profane publishing.
The Middle Ages will soon be finished. A few dozen miles away, Gutenberg is inventing the printing press.
POST SALE COMMENT
Scarcity has prevailed, and the defects identified in the catalog did not contradict the estimate. This manuscript that can nearly be described as a historic document was sold £ 1.15 million including premium.
1464 The Romance of the Bigamist Knight
2012 SOLD 3.85 M£ including premium
At the end of the Hundred Years' War, the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good maintains a prestigious court and is a patron of arts and literature. The prose novel Gillion de Trazegnies, composed at that time by an anonymous writer, is an amazing example of the revival of the courtly romance, with all the features of this literary genre.
The Trazegnies family actually existed in Hainaut, and the legend of the bigamist knight was told a long time before the writing of the novel. The reader is made weeping with this story of a pilgrim to the Holy Land who becomes a prisoner, believes that his wife is dead, becomes unintentionally a bigamist and is released of this accidental sin by his chevaleresque attitude.
This novel was published last year by the medievalist Stéphanie Vincent, who had access to the five copies in illuminated manuscripts of the original edition, all made for the Duke and his entourage.
Louis de Gruuthuse, stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, was one of the five privileged who received such a copy, illuminated in 1464 with 8 large and 44 small images. Then it belonged to Francis I king of France and to the Dukes of Devonshire. It is estimated £ 3M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 5.
The illuminated page where you see the narrator discovering the heart of Gillion between the graves of his two wives is shown in the press release shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding manuscript illuminated in Antwerp or Bruges was sold £ 3.85M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's introducing both this romance and the Mystère de la Vengeance already discussed in this group :
1470 Eternal Virgil
2013 SOLD 1.18 M£ including premium
In 1468 Venice hosts its first printer, Johann of Speyer, who had been a goldsmith in Mainz. Johann starts the task of publishing the masterpieces of Latin literature. The quality of his typography and layout is due to a clever imitation of the manuscripts.
In 1470, Johann died prematurely. His brother and collaborator Wendelin maintained until 1477 this excellent workshop now subject to the competition from Jenson. The tradition of the literary editions of Venice was launched. It will make the fame of Aldus.
On June 12 in London, Christie's sells the works of Virgil published in 1470 by Vindelinus de Spira. This book combining the Bucolica, Georgica and Aeneid along with comments (argumenta) is luxuriously printed on vellum and remarkably complete. It is estimated £ 500K. Here is the link to the catalog.
The Virgil of Wendelin is not the editio princeps but it is equally remarkable because it was built from a manuscript of a high literary fidelity.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good price, £ 1.18 million including premium, for this incunabula produced by one of the best workshops of the time.
1473 An English Merchant in the Burgundian Court
2014 SOLD 1.08 M£ including premium
The court of Philippe le Bon was the most luxurious in Europe. Perpetuating the traditions of chivalry, the Duke encouraged literature. One of his protégés, Raoul Lefèvre, successively wrote a story of Jason and a history of Troy.
Charles succeeds Philippe in 1467. His marriage in the following year with Margaret, sister of Edward IV, is an opportunity for Caxton. To please the new ducal couple, he immediately began to translate into English the Troy of Lefèvre. He finished this work in 1471.
Charles the Bold was like his father a great patron of the illuminators. Caxton had traveled throughout Europe and his confidence in printing is extraordinary in this context. The Histoire de Troie translated by Caxton becomes in 1473 or 1474 the first book printed in vernacular English.
A copy of this edition is estimated £ 600K, for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 15, lot 502.
This book was probably printed in Bruges in the entourage of Colard Mansion. Translator and probably editor, Caxton undoubtedly contributed actively to this achievement. After this successful experience, Caxton became the first English printer when he came back to London in 1476.
POST SALE COMMENT
This good copy of the first printed book published in the English language was sold for £ 1.08 million including premium.
First book printed in English □#OnThisDay in 2014 a copy of The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, first published around 1474, sold at @Sothebys for £1,082,500. The book was a translation by British print pioneer William Caxton of a French original. pic.twitter.com/e2l95HRNLf— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) July 15, 2019
1477 Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
1998 SOLD for £ 4.6M (including premium ?) by Christie's
1623 Shakespeare's First Folio
2001 SOLD for $ 6.2M including premium by Christie's
1623 The Quadricentennial of Shakespeare's Death
2016 SOLD for £ 1.87M including premium
The First Folio, published in 1623, is of utmost importance in the history of literature since it is the first edition for 18 of the 36 collected plays. It is a beautiful edition 30 x 20 cm for which the texts have been prepared with great care. A complete copy in splendid condition was sold for $ 6.2 million including premium by Christie's on 8 October 2001 over a lower estimate of $ 2M.
The example offered in the next sale was not yet known to scholars. It is resurfacing from the descendance of a prominent bibliophile who was also a scientist of the Enlightenment. Untouched for two centuries, the book has kept a remarkably fresh condition but the nine preamble leaves are missing and several repairs are announced in the catalog. It is estimated £ 800K, lot 101.
The Second Folio, published for the first time in 1632, is very close to the First Folio with respect to the Shakespearean corpus and the bibliophile had perhaps not desired to own it. The copy for sale atlot 102, printed circa 1641, comes from another source. It is estimated £ 180K.
The other two books were in the same collection as lot 101. The Third Folio was published in 1664. This copy in an exceptionally fresh preservation is estimated £ 300K, lot 103. This edition is very rare. At lot 104 the Fourth Folio, dated 1685, is estimated £ 15K.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
First Folio : £ 1.87M
Second Folio : £ 195K
Third Folio : £ 360K
Fourth Folio : £ 47K
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's to introduce the First Folio of the next sale:
1623 Shakespeare's First Folio
2010 SOLD 1.5 M£ including premium
In 1623, seven years later, his closest collaborators had restored and released the closest version of his texts, by memory and using scattered manuscripts. This remarkable and prestigious edition is known as the First Folio. It is forever used as the top reference for any Shakespearean scholarship.
A story gives an idea of the passion that animated the work of these collecters. The printing of the First Folio was suspended over a hundred times to make corrections to the text, so that one cannot find two identical books.
On December 7 in London, Sotheby's auctions a First Folio in very good condition. It has the rare feature of being complete as regards to the texts of all the 36 collected plays.
The estimate, £ 1M, seems low. The same auction house sold £ 2.8 million including premium another complete copy on July 13, 2006. It had been estimated £ 2.5 million, correctly. The binding of the mid-seventeenth century was a little earlier, but I doubt that it explains such a price difference. Wait for the result!
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, £ 1.5 million including premium, is in the upper part of the estimate range.
1841 Balzac on Provincial Life
2017 SOLD for € 1.17M including premium
A great admirer of himself, he foresees for his work the notoriety of Napoléon and puts his social classification on the rank of the scientific works by Buffon and Cuvier. According to the mood of his time he is very keen of physiognomy.
He was born in Tours : for provincial life, his experience is direct. He has met during his childhood these bourgeois, these doctors and these priests who do not understand the unpleasant character of their own pettiness. Balzac does not exclude anything from the mental environment of his bourgeois who are, depending on the individuals, either attracted, repulsed or little concerned in religion or occultism.
Ursule Mirouët, written in 1841, is the story of an innocent girl whom everyone in her surrounding manages to disinherit. Balzac is particularly satisfied with this novel which will soon become the first opus of the Scènes de la Vie de Province in the complete edition of La Comédie Humaine by Furne.
Ursule Mirouët's first-run manuscript will be sold on December 20 in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) in the inaugural auction of the Aristophil collections operated by Aguttes and OVA, lot 45estimated € 800K.
According to Balzac's usual practice, this manuscript has many differences with the final published text. Indeed he preferred to write in speed and to rely upon the printing proofs for reviewing the consistency and bringing innumerable corrections.
Ursule Mirouët is one of only two first-run manuscripts from La Comédie Humaine in private hands. The other example, Massimilla Doni, on music, is a little away from the main social stream of Balzac.
Please watch the video shared by Aguttes.
1913 Friendship of Proust and Daudet
2018 SOLD for € 1.5M including premium
Coming now from the Bergé collection, the book with the dedication sheet fitted at its original position is estimated € 600K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in association with Sotheby's at Paris - Hôtel Drouot on December 14, lot 927.
I narrated as follows before the 2013 sale the literary work and its dedication.
A wealthy and sickly esthete attends the worldly salons. His ambition is to become a great writer. His sensuality provides him with a vision of life as a river that flows inexorably but is marked by memories of strong impressions even if sometimes their cause is derisory.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, that literary project by Marcel Proust opens the way to the psychological novel, closer to a long prose poem than to a true novel. In his research of every empathy, he did not reject homosexual emotion in his writings and in his own life.
His cycle of novels got a title that highlighted his literary purpose : A la recherche du temps perdu. In 1907 his plan was ready, but the writing phase will be long.
The first opus, Du Côté de chez Swann, was submitted to editors in 1913. Discouraged at first reading by obscure metaphors, André Gide refused to have it published by the prestigious NRF. Bernard Grasset agreed to edit it by author's expense. Gide soon recognized that his decision had been a major blunder.
At the end of the first print and according to the literary tradition, a few copies were printed on luxury paper for being presented to personalities selected by the author : five numbered 1 to 5 on Japon followed by twelve on Hollande.
The number 1 is dedicated to Lucien, a son of Alphonse Daudet. Proust had enjoyed in the mid-1890s the fragility of this effeminate teenager. Their romantic affair revealed against their will by the scandal chronicler Jean Lorrain was followed by an efficient literary cooperation.
The author had included in that copy a dedication page in a typically Proustian emphatic style which had been later kept by Daudet when he sold the book.
#Swann #Proust #MarcelProust @EditionsGrasset 1913 envoi à Lucien Daudet #PierreBerge @pvgberge @SothebysFr vente @Drouot 14 decembre 2018 mon cher petit vous êtes absent de ce livre vous faites trop partie de mon coeur pour que je puisse jamais vous peindre objectivement pic.twitter.com/Egn0NQU1eg— lecurieuxdesarts (@PresseKraemer) October 25, 2018
1924 Automatic Writing
2008 SOLD for € 1.9M including premium by Sotheby's
Automatic writing becomes a literary genre in 1919 with Breton, Soupault and their friends. It is a matter of recording in high speed the words released by the subconscious. A half-sleep or a hypnotic condition favors the process by erasing logics, will and purpose.
These young experimenters create the magazine Littérature and highlight their precursors : Dostoevski, Lautréamont. Their common point is the rejection of classical literature and especially of the novel. For the rest, despite Breton's ambition, the group's cohesion is an illusion. Have they ever questioned why readers outside their small circle could be interested in the irrational text from their subconscious ?
They had been close to Dada that vanished for the same reason. They do not have the monopoly of publishing : when Joyce's Ulysses is released in Paris in 1922, this use of the stream of consciousness in the production of a novel baffles Breton. To avoid being for or against, he does not read it.
In the spring of 1924 Breton is seized with a frenzy of automatic writing. He prepares about a hundred "historiettes" on school notebooks and plans to put together a selection in a book titled Poisson Soluble. At that point Breton finally considers that a theoretical introduction will restrain the hostile comments of the critics. During the summer he prepares a Préface for Poisson Soluble under the aggressive title Manifeste du Surréalisme. He finishes in September the copying of the 31 stories of the Poisson Soluble.
The desire for a cohesion remains ineffective. The Manifeste is a theoretical text but the subconscious had contributed and Breton does not want to rework it. In 1929 he prepares the Second Manifeste du Surréalisme.
The most important autograph manuscripts on Poisson Soluble and the Manifeste of 1924 had been preserved by Simone Collinet, the first wife of Breton, and were sold in nine lots by Sotheby's on May 21, 2008. Acquired by Aristophil, they are for sale in three lots by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 20. Purchased by Aristophil from another source, the autograph manuscript of the Second Manifeste is listed in the same auction. The four lots will be sold separately and then followed by an option of global bidding.
The Manifeste of 1924, sold for € 1.9M including premium in 2008, is estimated € 600K, lot 53. The final manuscript of Poisson Soluble, sold for € 900K including premium in 2008, is estimated € 900K, lot 54. The seven automatic notebooks from the Collinet collection, which do not constitute a complete set, were sold individually in 2008 for a total of € 820K including premium and are now grouped in lot 55 estimated € 2M. The Second Manifeste accompanied by printing proofs corrected by the author is estimated € 1M, lot 56.
Please watch the video shared by Aguttes.
1946 The Tragic Face of Antonin Artaud
2012 SOLD 2.15 M€ including premium
He had friends who managed to make him leave the psychiatric hospital after eight years of confinement, in May 1946. He is not cured but a new life begins for him with an intense creative activity interspersed with morbid public happenings.
He draws some portraits. His most famous graphic work is certainly the self-portrait dated December 17, 1946, 60 x 45 cm. Estimated € 500K, it is for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on April 5. Here is the link to the catalog.
He is an elderly man 50 years old, worn out by life. He is aware of his decline but wants to display himself as he is, just like he sees himself in the mirror with his exacerbated eyes. This is both a terrible image of one of the leading intellectuals of French theater and an inexhaustible subject of study for psychiatrists.
A month later, on the occasion of an exhibition, Artaud discovers the self-portraits of Van Gogh. He is conquered. He lives the pain of Van Gogh as if it were his own and understands that he himself is also a great artist. He still has just over one year to live.
I invite you to play the video prepared by Connaissance des Arts with Sotheby's.
POST SALE COMMENT
This extraordinary self-portrait is a unique link between French art and literature. It deserved a price rarely achieved by a drawing of the twentieth century: € 2.15 million including premium.