The 26 November auction of Livres et Manuscrits achieved a total of €2,018,164. The highlight of the sale was the exceptional draft manuscript of Refflections sur le caractère de quelques princes, which sold for €457,500, doubling its high estimate of €200,000. This 68-page manuscript is one of the liveliest from the founder of modern democratic political thought.
The sale opens with one of very few manuscripts autographed by a classical author still in private hands: the exceptional, 68-page draft manuscript of Montesquieu’s Réflexions sur le caractère de quelques princes (estimate €150,000-200,000). There will also be two superb handwritten letters from Louis XVI to Marie-Antoinette’s closest friend, the Duchesse de Polignac, dated 1789 and 1790 (estimate €8,000-12,000 and €15,000-20,000); three manuscripts about the Sèvres porcelain factory’s secrets of colour production, including that of the celebrated Sèvres blue (estimate €50,000-80,000); and a superb Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) with a wealth of contemporary annotations (estimate €20,000-30,000).
The sale’s 19th-century highlights include the first known letter from Gauguin to his wife Mette, dated 1883 (estimate €20,000-30,000), and an exceptional series of letters from Gérard de Nerval. Other important lots include a rare ensemble of manuscripts, proofs and printed matter by the authors of l’Action française (Maurras, Brasillach) and 20th-century literature by Apollinaire, Breton, Larbaud and Péguy. Proust leads the selection of modern works with the draft of the mythical letter that André Gide sent him on 10 or 11 January 1914 (estimate €100,000-150,000), along with corrected proofs of À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs and autographed letters from Proust to Reynaldo and Gallimard’s assistant (16 February 1919) about his work.