On May 31, The Galerie Charpentier was the setting for an outstanding day in the field of books and manuscripts. The sale began with a remarkable collection of antique books, including some very rare Renaissance medical books, together with some rare incunabula and great classics of French literature. The fine collection of medical books came from the library of Jean Blondelet. These 51 ancient books fetched €623,000, with 67% of them exceeding their high estimates.
The second part, featuring the Patricia Mante-Proust Collection, which came directly from Marcel and Robert Proust, was an outstanding event. This extraordinarily moving collection transported bibliophiles to the private life of the world’s most admired French writer. 130 photographs, dedicated books, manuscripts and letters all provided information on his life, love, friends and work. With 79% of the lots exceeding their high estimate, this unique collection achieved €1.2 million.
The highest price in the collection, €111,000, went to the remarkable galley of À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs [1914-1919], almost entirely handwritten and hitherto unknown (lot 215, estimate: €20,000-25,000). The photographs cherished by Marcel Proust as records of his life, family, meetings and inspirations, aroused considerable enthusiasm in the large audience and all smashed their estimates.
ANTIQUARIAN BOOKS: EARLY MEDICAL BOOKS FROM THE LIBRARY OF JEAN BLONDELET, INCUNABULA AND FRENCH CLASSICS (lots 1 to 52)
Among the antiquarian books on offer is an exceptional collection of rare Renaissance medical books from the library of Jean Blondelet. Most of these are exceedingly rare and include richly-annotated copies by contemporary doctors, professors, and students.
Highlights include la Cirugia by Dal Sarasin (1513), the Isagogae by Berengario (1523), an extraordinary manuscript describing Matteo Corti’s anatomy courses at Padua university in 1537, Eustachi (1563), Pierre Franco’s rarest editions (1556 et 1561), a large paper copy of Tagliacozzi’s plastic surgery masterpiece. All either echo or contradict the teachings of the great scientists of Antiquity, such as Hippocrates (edited by Rabelais, 1532), Galen (by Champier, 1516), Avicenna (1556, with annotations in Arabic), or Telesio (1565). Rare botanical treatises, such as the early Grant Herbier (ca. 1510), or Gesner (1555), stand alongside the rarest practical treatises of surgeons.
Incunabula, such as a four-text set of Cicero’s works annotated by a master from the university of Leipzig ca. 1500, Plutarch’s editio princeps of the Moralia, as well as treasures of French classical literature (Racine’s copy of Sophocles, Baïf’s complete rare first collective edition …) are interspersed among the scientific works.
MARCEL PROUST: PATRICIA MANTE-PROUST COLLECTION (LOTS 116 TO 241)
It is extremely rare to see the archives of a great writer appear on the market. The auction of the collection of the great-grandniece of Marcel Proust, Patricia Mante-Proust, is a real literary event. This moving collection takes book lovers into the intimate world of a brilliant writer through over 120 photographs, books, manuscripts and letters, all shedding light on his work, friends and love life.