If you are a serious collector of French manuscripts, Sotheby's sale of Books and Manuscripts on May 29th will likely contain some eye-catching items. And while some items come with eye-popping prices, there are items in all price ranges. The sale of 149 lots places an emphasis on manuscripts from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; the likes of which include the letter by the imprisoned Alfred Dreyfus to the French Interior Minister (est. €100,000-150,000 / $131,000-196,500), the handwritten correspondence [17 letters and 3 copies] from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the love of his life, Madame d'Houdetot (est. €250,000-350,000 / $377,500-458,500), 61 letters by Voltaire to his friend president de Ruffey describing the last 23 years of his every day life (est. €100,000-150,000 / $131,000-196,500), and 40 manuscripts from the Minka & Karl-Hans Strauss collection featuring letters from Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, August Renoir and other famous artists (prices vary). These are just some of the headliners.
But the sale is called Books & Manuscripts, and books-wise, the sale does not look to disappoint. The logbook of the five naval campaigns of Chevalier de Parcevaux (est. €60,000-90,000 / $78,600-117,900), until now held by his descendants, is up for auction. It is illustrated with watercolors and also contains one of the three known accounts detailing the Rio de Janeiro campaign when the city was plundered. Other key highlights include 19th century first editions and handwritten documents by major authors such as François-René de Chateaubriand's four unpublished chapters of his Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe (est. €80,000-120,000 / $104,800-157,200), Paul Verlaine's Les Mémoires d'un Veuf (est. €8,000-12,000 / $10,500-15,700), and Emile Zola's corrected proofs of Paris (est. €6,000-8,000 / $7,800-10,500).
Rounding out the sale is a section focused on 20th century books and manuscripts. A rare copy on papier japon of Swiss novelist and poet Blaise Cendrars' La Prose du Transsibérien et la Petite Jehanne de France (est. €100,000-150,000 / $131,000-195,500) is considered the gem here. The book is considered a landmark piece in the evolution of artists' books, modernist poetry and abstract art. The poet Paul Eluard, one of the founders of the surrealist movement, is also featured in several lots. His own copy of that album A Toute Épreuve with a surrealist binding by Paul Bonet (€40,000-60,000 / $52,400-78,600), as well as the first illustrated edition of the same work, featuring 80 engravings by Joan Miró (est. €60,000-80,000 / $78,600-104,800) are being sold.
The sale is open for viewing in Paris, Friday, May 24th from 12pm - 6pm, and Saturday, May 25th through Tuesday, May 28th, from 10am - 6pm (closed on Sunday).
Click here to view the eCatalogue on Sotheby's website.
The images included in the slideshow are as listed:
Lot 8: Logbook of the five naval campaigns of Chevalier de Parcevaux
Lot 19: Handwritten correspondence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Madame d'Houdetot
Lot 22: 61 letters by Voltaire to president Ruffey
Lot 29: Four unpublished chapters of François-René de Chateaubriand'sMémoires d'Outre-Tombe
Lot 34: Alfred Dreyfus' letter to the French Interior Minister whilst imprisoned
Lot 54: Paul Verlaine's Les Mémoires d'un Veuf
Lot 60: Emile Zola's corrected proofs of Paris
Lot 71: Autographed Letter Signed from Claude Monet to Antoine Vollon from the Minka & Karl-Hans Strauss collection
Lot 109: Blaise Cendrars' La Prose du Transsibérien et la Petite Jehanne de France
Lot 138: First illustrated edition of Paul Eluard's A Toute Épreuve featuring 80 engravings by Joan Miró