Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2013 Issue

Guernsey's:  John James Audubon . . . handsome works of nature

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Audubon at Guernsey's on May 11th

In the world of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera the line between list prices and auction realizations is being re-defined in the auction rooms with startling and regular rapidity.  The balance is shifting and material that once commanded substantial premiums increasingly, and from the consignor’s perspective reluctantly, is adjusting to changing tastes and increasing availability.  The upcoming sale of material from the Arader archives under Guernsey’s command on the 11th tests this notion in the print category.  The sale venue is the Arader Gallery’s New York emporium at 29 East 72nd Street, 2nd Floor.  That important material is being released reflects the seller’s need to jumpstart an indecisive market.

With Mr. Arader you can buy his material but you are also buying the man, one of the most visible dealers in the field, his visibility and feuds legendary.  He was recently the subject of a story in Forbes that reprised his career and his effort to build important collections in universities to encourage the study and appreciation of important prints.  In this he is unique as not just a dealer but also as outspoken advocate for the importance and value of such prints.
  

In February Mr. Arader experimented at auction broadly offering an array of materials.  This next sale reflects his intensifying interest in the category that did best that day; the Audubon prints.  That sale saw close to half the lots sell for $1.5 million.  For this sale all lots whose high estimates are $5,000 or less are unreserved and marked as such in both the sale’s printed and on-line catalogues.
  

For this sale the material is an appealing selection of Audubon prints and a few sundry items, 230 lots altogether.  The first 147 are Audubon’s Birds, lots 148 to 214 Audubon’s Quadrupeds, lots 215-217 a small selection of books and manuscripts and lots 218 to 230 Pierre-Joseph Redoute watercolors.  It’s intended as a tour of possibilities from the absolutely modest to the outright grand.  Bidders will find some bargains because Mr. Arader is determined to establish the current market’s threshold even if finding it means letting some lots walk out the door for a song.

So when I asked him recently about his plans he focused on his goal to give fifty million dollars of material to institutions. To that number he'll probably have to add two or three million for building his next bridge - an enduring auction presence.  The sales aren't that expensive to organize but developing an auction clientele takes time.   

In the meantime one suspects he is looking over the next horizon.  Should auctions for the entire works on paper field continue to loom large he’ll understand the drill.  He’s in the building and the next bout is the 11th.  AE today covers almost 200 auction houses and venues.  Perhaps in a few years there will be no. 201.

Here are links to the catalogue both on AE and on Live Auctioneers.

Natural history treasures coming to USC

An extraordinarily fine and comprehensive collection of works of art that reflect the history of the discovery of the natural world, and how that knowledge was brought from the new to the old world, will soon be in the hands if University of South Carolina students studying subjects from art history to environmental science.

Thanks to a collaboration of USC Libraries, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Arader Galleries, USC will be home to a tour de force of some 15,000 natural history watercolors, woodcuts, engravings, lithographs, and chromolithographs, and maps, from the 16th to 19th centuries; a donation valued at approximately $30 million.

These works of art are from the collection of Graham Arader, who has devoted more than four decades to building a comprehensive galley of natural history artwork, including hand-colored aquatints and lithographs by John James Audubon and other important ornithological, zoological and botanical artists.

“We are immensely grateful to Graham Arader for donating his exquisite collection of natural engravings ti the university.  Mr. Arader believes that when students live and study near great works of art, great learning will take place,” USC President Harris Pastides said.  “Our appreciation can not be overstated.”

The idea is to excite and inspire the students by bringing the art to them – not simply hanging it in museums.  USC leaders envision a collection that is a part of undergraduate education, used by students studying art history, Linnaean classification, business, technology, biology or myriad other topics.  Plans call for artwork from the Arader Galleries natural history collection to be on display in buildings all over campus, heightening students’ awareness of the treasures.

“Graham wants the items he has spent a lifetime acquiring to be used to educate,” said USC Libraries Dean Tom McNally.  “College of Arts and Sciences Dean Mary Ann Fitzpatrick and I are working together to plan how the items to be integrated into the curriculum.  She has been very involved in bringing the collection here and in developing ways to use it for teaching.”

This exciting acquisition follows in the long and treasured tradition in which University Librarians and Presidents have drawn great collections of rare books, engravings, maps and manuscripts to the University by gift from distinguished alumni.

The Arader Galleries collection of natural history artwork will be housed in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in USC’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.  Two full-time cataloguers will be hired to process and catalog the collection.  Once all the collection arrives at USC, it will be ready for regular instructional use in about 12 months, McNally said.

“We are delighted to work with our colleagues on this initiative because we are committed to fostering undergraduate research.”  Fitzpatrick said.  “Graham Arader’s vision will give our students and faculty the unique opportunity of working directly with engravings and lithographs of extraordinary quality.  This is a transformative gift.”

Link to Arader Galleries.Links to videos -


Arader on Audubon [1]

Arader on Audubon [2]

Rare Book Monthly

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