1460 The First Spin-Off of the Printed Book
2017 SOLD for € 820K before fees
The first delocalized spin-off consists of two Bibles, both based on the 42-line Latin Bible and produced between 1458 and 1460 but not dated in the printing. Their oldest rubrication dates define a terminus ante quem at 1460 for the first of the two volumes of the 49-line Bible and at 1461 for the other volume and for the 36-line Bible. Rubrication is the addition of red color by hand to highlight important parts of the text and paragraph changes.
The origin of the 36-line Bible is not documented. It is known as the Bamberg Bible because most of the copies of which an early provenance is known had an owner near that city where Gutenberg had tried in vain to recreate his workshop. The 49-line Bible was printed in Strasbourg by Johannes Mentelin, previously established as a calligrapher.
These three Bibles have other characteristics in common. They were printed in two columns per page with similar papers and inks. The Mentelin Bible was made with an elegant and ephemeral pseudo-gothic typography. Thanks to its higher number of lines per page, this in folio Bible 41 x 30 cm is the most compact.
On October 17 in Paris, Alde sells a complete copy of the first volume including Genesis and Psalms of the Bible of Mentelin, lot 76 estimated € 450K. Here is the link to the website of the auction house. It is covered in a 19th century binding commissioned by a scholar in the spectacular Augsburg style of the 15th century.
The 49-line Bible launched the successful business of Mentelin, more famous with the first printing of a Bible in German in 1466.
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.
1470 A Young Man from the Quattrocento
2012 SOLD 1.4 M$ including premium
It is surprising to be suddenly face to face with a young man of the Quattrocento. He looks at you kindly, with some pride, unlike many of his contemporaries who rather exhibited their profile.
On a sheet pretty large in its class, 36 x 23 cm, this portrait is almost life-size. The cap and the jacket with strictcollar are in the fashion of Florence. The technique is clever: the paper was prepared with a sfumato of black chalk, and the sharp line in brown ink shows a careful research of realism.
Comparing with paintings from the same period, the experts consider a probable attribution to Piero del Pollaiolo, circa 1470 (the spelling Pollaiuolo, most common, is not the one used by Wikipedia in Italian, but I learned by the way that this nickname means "son of the chicken seller").
This drawing is estimated $ 300K, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 25. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This rare and beautiful drawing could not stay at its estimate, and the fact that its attribution is not fully demonstrated could not be a handicap for such a piece. It was sold $ 1.4M including premium.
1470 Illuminated Printing
2010 SOLD for £ 940K including premium
The first printed book, in 1455, had been the Latin Bible, or more exactly the Vulgate of St. Jerome. Fust is the sponsor, Gutenberg the publisher and Schöffer (Schoeffer) the technician and probably the foreman. After the commercial failure of that operation Fust and Schoeffer remain associates in Mainz. After the death of Fust in 1466 Schoeffer becomes his successor and son-in-law.
After having been one of the most important Fathers of the Church, Jerome becomes indeed the subject of an intense investigation. By a research in ecclesiastical and monastical libraries, a Benedictine monk known as Adrianus Brielis increases to 200 items the corpus of epistles written by Jerome.
This outstanding work is classified thematically by Brielis and published by Schoeffer in 1470 in two successive editions, incorporating new discoveries and significant reworks in the second edition.
The first workshops of movable type printing in southern Germany are inseparable from the industry of the copyists but also of the illuminators. Once printed, the specimens were illuminated by hand in more or less extent to be marketed at various prices.
On July 7, 2010, Christie's sold as lot 10 for £ 940K including premium a deluxe copy printed in Mainz in 1470 by Schoeffer of the Letters (Epistolae) of St. Jerome (Hieronymus) gathered by Brielis. It is now estimated € 600K for sale in Paris Hôtel Drouot by OVA - Aristophil operated by Aguttes on June 16, lot 26.
It is a large-size book on vellum 48 x 33 cm. This extensively illuminated copy is in a remarkable original condition, still in its binding in two volumes made in period in Erfurt.
This copy from the first edition has been extensively amended in handwriting to add the modifications in preparation for the second edition, providing a fair view of the concurrent practice of editing and printing for that operation. For sure the expensive double printing including red ink for the rubrication did not invite for a scrap of the obsolete copies.
The discussion above is mostly based on my 2010 post.
early 1470s Unveiling a Renaissance Virgin and Child
2017 SOLD for $ 9M including premium
The great collector Horace Walpole had acquired it for 80 guineas in 1752 in an auction, as a scene of the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York in 1486. A difference in technique between the characters and the architectural elements suggests that the composition is hybrid but Walpole is very proud to possess this painting considered as typically Tudor. The provenance is known : it had belonged to William Sykes half a century earlier.
It is exhibited in 1890. An acute observer tells in the Gazette des Beaux Arts that he perceives a classic Virgin and Child through the central part which is a church interior without figures.
The work was acquired in 1977 by the art dealer Edward Speelman. Convinced that only the architectural elements and three of the four saints were contemporaries of the Flemish Renaissance, he entrusted the restoration to the specialist David Bull of the Norton Simon Museum.
In a patient work that spans almost ten years, Bull removes with his knife the 18th century paintings, certainly made by or for Sykes who had a reputation as a faker and knew how to transform works when it pleased his clients. Bull's work brings to light a superb drawing of the Virgin and Child in the central part, supersedes Elizabeth of York with an ill-preserved drawing of St John the Baptist and restitutes to the false Tudor the attributes of St. Louis.
The expertise continued. Radiographic inspection and infrared reflectography demonstrate that the quality of the under-drawing is homogeneous throughout the surface. All the composite elements resulting from the painstaking work of Bull come from a Renaissance work. The beauty of drawing, painting and colors indicates that this panel is the autograph work of a master.
The comparison of expressive details, such as the face of the Virgin or the study of feet, with works indisputably attributed to Hugo van der Goes is convincing and a dating in the early 1470s is consistent with the dendrochronology of the panel. Hugo was a perfectionist until he fell into madness. He worked in Ghent where he admired the polyptych painted half a century earlier by the van Eyck brothers for the altar of St. Bavon's cathedral.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's :
1470-1475 Descent into Limbo, by Mantegna
2003 SOLD for $ 28.6M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
On January 23, 2003, Sotheby's sold for $ 28.6M including premium a Descent of Christ into Limbo, tempera and gold on canvas 39 x 42 cm painted circa 1470-1475. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
This theme is rare because it is only told in apocryphal scriptures. Between the Passion and the Resurrection, Christ makes a visit to Limbo where the virtuous patriarchs wait for the Messiah to open to them the gates of Paradise, closed since the fault of Adam.
The figures are standing on two floors as if by an ingenious theater machinery. Christ is seen from the back, bent over to comfort a patriarch who comes out at mid length from the abyss. At the same level as Christ in this world of the dead, five characters pray, four on the left and one on the right. They are naked except for a modest cloth around the belt.
The composition is designed with a remarkable balance divided in its center by the stick of Christ, creating a strong narrative tension although the main character, Christ, is not recognizable. Mantegna was possibly influenced by Donatello's formal studies for the interaction between the characters. Once again his independence from the traditional Christian iconography is extraordinary for his time.
1471-1476 The Chapel of the Condottieri
2018 SOLD for € 2.2M including premium
Galeazzo Maria Sforza was a true prince of the Renaissance, altogether humanistic and perverse. He early deserved his reputation for lust and sadism. At the same time the best musicians were coming in his ducal chapel to sing and compose masses and motets.
A large size illuminated manuscript made for the young Duke was sold for £ 1.22M including premium by Christie's on July 6, 2011 over a lower estimate of £ 600K. It is estimated € 600K for sale by OVA Aristophil operated by Aguttes in Paris Hôtel Drouot on June 16, lot 22.
This very large book 35 x 24 cm could be read on a lectern in a chapel. The luxurious layout is of a great originality. The illuminations are from the hand of an artist identified as the Maestro d'Ippolita after a work done in 1465 for the wedding of Ippolita Sforza.
These Sforza's Great Hours for the use of Rome are mainly dedicated to the Virgin, in Latin with a few minor texts in Italian. The ducal emblems and monograms displayed in various parts of the book assess that its magnificence is intended for Duke Galeazzo Maria himself.
One page refers to Sixtus IV, allowing to date the book between the election of this pope in 1471 and the murder of Galeazzo Maria in 1476.
La session estivale des ventes #Aristophil débute le 16 juin à 14h30 chez @Aguttes_ @Drouot. Entre les lettres de Marie de Médicis et François Ier, on retrouvera le chef-d’oeuvre d’enluminures « Les Grandes Heures de Galeazzo Maria Sforza » https://t.co/AjQQY7hdck pic.twitter.com/TYZkERxWg0— AuctionLab (@byAuctionLab) June 5, 2018
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
1477 Ptolemy's Cosmographia
2006 SOLD for £ 2.14M including premium by Sotheby's
Nasrid - An Ear Dagger
2010 SOLD 3.7 M£ including premium
It had also to protect the hand, and the ear dagger was appreciated by hunters and soldiers. In this model, the guard consists of two flat disks (the "ears") confronting on both sides of the handle.
A refined specimen is for sale on October 6 in London by Sotheby's. Coming from Nasrid Spain, this piece has been made in the 9th century AH, more than 500 years ago. The final defeat of the Nasrids by Ferdinand and Isabella was in 1492 of our calendar.
With a total length of 30 cm, it is finely damascened with scenes of hunting and with cartouches including Kufic-style inscriptions. This lot is estimated £ 600K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The bidders confirmed the beauty and rarity of this piece, well beyond the price estimated by the auction house. This dagger was sold £ 3.7 million including premium
Mamluk - A Damascened Shirt of Mail
2015 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium
On December 5 in Rock Island IL, Rock Island Auction Company sells a Mamluk shirt of mail and plate, lot 1262estimated in excess of $ 200K.
The weaving of this garment is the simplest and most effective model where each ring is linked with its four surrounding rings. The coat opens from the front side. At the front and back of the garment, the plates are inlaid with a gilding of koftgari type.
Inscriptions are difficult to read, but the reference to the Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay seems indisputable. It was probably created for the sultan himself or one of his riders. A similar armor assigned to the same reign is preserved at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Qaitbay ruled Egypt from 871 to 901 AH, during the last quarter of the 15th century of our calendar.
This piece is in a very satisfactory condition for its age. A few rings and a few plate rivets are missing or twisted. About 60% of the koftgari is present with a particularly good conservation on the front of the shirt.