Seventeen love letters from Rousseau to Madame d’Houdetot are among the many important letters and manuscripts featured in our sale. Others include 61 letters from Voltaire to President de Ruffey, an illustrated manuscript about the historic 1711 Duguay-Trouin expedition to Rio de Janeiro and an important set of manuscripts of Chateaubriand for the Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe.
Additional notable items include 75 letters of Antoine Barnave, one of the manuscripts of the Diaboliquesby Barbey d’Aurevilly and manuscripts of Mérimée, Bloy, Char and Eluard. Important copies with prestigious origins include Marot bound by Boyet from the Balzac library, the Code de la Police by Berryer and Lamoignon and the Gruter from De Thou in red leather.
Important artist material will include books, letters and original drawings by Matisse, Picasso, Dalí and Miró. Among these are a letter from Dalí to Cassanyes about Picasso, the Bible illustrated by Dalí with a watercolour, a drawing that Miró offered to Char and a drawing from Picasso representing the city of Paris.
One of the two sessions will be dedicated to the collection of Minka & Karl-Hans Strauss, which includes letters from Courbet, Rodin, Rilke, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Signac and Proust.
With a total of €2.8 million/$3.6 million, the sale of Books & Manuscripts held today at Sotheby’s Paris saw fierce competition for exceptional items – whether manuscripts of evident historic importance; rare personal correspondence revealing hidden aspects of the lives and personalities of such great writers as Rousseau and Voltaire; or the manuscript versions of major literary works like Barbey d’Aurevilly’s Les Diaboliques or Chateaubriand’s Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe.
The sale’s highest price of €505,500/$651,832, double low-estimate, rewarded a series of moving letters from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Madame d’Houdetot, written between October 1757 and April 1758 while he was staying with Madame d’Epinay. This correspondence with the love of his life, who inspired the character of Julie in La Nouvelle Héloïse, portrays Rousseau as a solitary figure of great integrity, spurning social games and growing increasingly isolated (lot 19).