Achieving a total €1.7 million, yesterday’s sale of books and manuscripts in Paris was a resounding success. The auction was 74.3% sold by lot and 87.6% sold by value, a record for a sale of books and manuscripts in France. Three institutions pre-empted on five pieces in the sale, which demonstrates the high quality and importance of the lots offered at the auction.
The three manuscripts from Arthur Rimbaud were a triumph, achieving an outstanding total of €470,000. La Rivière de Cassis, a poem given by Rimbaud to Paul Verlaine, soared to €283,500 (estimate: €100,000-150,000), the highest price of the sale.
Exceptional results were also achieved for the collection of medical manuscripts from the library of Jean Blondelet. Two of the most sought-after lots were Fabricius ab Acquapendente’s treatises and Paracelsus’s first collected edition, which smashed their high estimates, selling for €77,500 and €55,000 respectively.
The sale opens with a selection of outstanding medical manuscripts from the library of Jean Blondelet. This group includes rare first editions of Paré, Fabrici, Paracelse, Cardan, Harvey, Santori, Major, Mersenne, Guillemeau, and Larrey, as well as a Dürer once owned by Nostradamus. These will be joined by a selection of illustrated scientific books from the 16th to the 18th centuries, botanic and zoological works, 18th-century literature and Napoleonica.
The manuscripts of Rimbaud’s La rivière de cassis featured in the auction, as well as original drawings by the author are, like anything associated with him, outstanding. These literary highlights will be presented alongside manuscripts from Apollinaire, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Proust, Breton, Guy Debord, and Genet. Sartre’s long manuscript of an unfinished novel, La Dernière chance, will also be included.
The auction also features artists’ letters from Ensor, Jaguer, Jorn, Pissarro, Redon and Signac; original drawings by Picasso, Bellmer and Saint-Exupéry; and manuscripts from musicians such as Berlioz and Liszt, and the inventor of photography, Nicéphore Niépce. The sale is completed with illustrated books and original drawings by Louise Bourgeois, Buren, Dubuffet, Klimt, Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Miró, Staël, and Vieira da Silva.