Bibliothèque R. & B. L: une décennie de ventes

Online Auction: 11–17 June 2020 • 2:00 PM CEST • Paris
Bibliothèque R. & B. L. : une décennie de ventes 11–17 June 2020 • 2:00 PM CEST • Paris

The dispersal of the important literary collection of R. & B.L, a collection built over a period of sixty years, comes to an end with this final sale from June 11 to 17. This last group of books and autographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, all paying homage to French literature, will once again be organised by Sotheby's in association with the French auction house of Binoche and Giquello, with the assistance of specialist Dominique Courvoisier.

Among the most remarkable lots are the extremely rare first editions of La Nouvelle Justine and Juliette de Sade, illustrated with their extraordinary erotic engravings. For the 19th century there is L'Education sentimentale with Flaubert's inscription to the critic Janin, a copy of Hugo’s Orientales belonging to Sainte-Beuve and a pen and ink drawing of a voyage in a hot-air balloon by Victor Hugo himself. Very diverse, the catalogue also includes letters from painters (Gauguin, Monet or Pissarro) and musicians (Debussy, Liszt or Berlioz), as well as original drawings by Marie Laurencin and Aristide Maillol.

Featured Highlights

Sade. La Nouvelle Justine. Rarissime en rel. érotique.Véritables éditions originales publiées à Paris en 1799 et en 1801
This section on 19th century literature opens with an extremely rare set of the Marquis de Sade, the first editions of La Nouvelle Justine, and Juliette. They were both published in Paris; La Nouvelle Justine in 1799 and Juliette in 1801, and both bear the same false address in Holland, and with the false date of 1797. This first edition of the novel consists of 10 volumes, illustrated with a frontispiece and 100 erotic engravings attributed to Bornet.
Flaubert. L'Éducation sentimentale. 1870. 2 vol. in-8. Rel. de Carayon. E.O., ex. sur hollande, envoi à Janin
Among the star literary lots is one of the very rare copies of the first edition of L'Education Sentimentale by Gustave Flaubert on handmade laid paper, including a handwritten inscription from the author to the literary critic Jules Janin, one of the most influential critics of the time.
Hugo. Départ du ballon. Dessin original à la plume (130 x 113 mm).
Victor Hugo is represented by no fewer than 12 lots, including a superb and unusual unpublished ink drawing executed around 1870. This Départ du Ballon depicts a hot air balloon flying over a city, probably in homage to the postal balloons used during the siege of Paris, to communicate outside the city, then under attack by the Prussians. Among them, one carrying leaflets written by the author that were dropped above the enemy lines.
Hugo. Les Orientales. Paris, 1829. In-8, demi-veau cerise, dos orné avec gros fers à froid (Bibolet).
Victor Hugo's work is of course to be found in the sale in the collections of his poetry, notably with a first edition of Orientales, 1829. This important copy was given by Hugo himself to Sainte-Beuve, whom he had met two years earlier on the occasion of two laudatory articles written by the critic on the subject of Hugo's Odes et Ballades. The beautiful binding is signed by Bibolet, who worked for the Prince de Talleyrand among others.
Mallarmé. Les Poésies, photolithographiées... Paris, 1887. 9 fascicules in-4, en feuilles. Rare édition originale.
A very rare first edition of Stéphane Mallarmé's first collection of poetry, Les Poésies photolithographiées du manuscrit définitif, is also to be found in the catalogue. It is decorated with a frontispiece of a very beautiful etching by Félicien Rops. The etching depicts a woman holding a giant lyre, sitting on a throne at the foot of which lies a pile of severed heads with grimacing faces. This luxurious publication brings together 35 poems carefully reworked and transcribed by Mallarmé himself.
Celine. Voyage au bout de la nuit. 1932. Ed. originale. Un des rares premiers ex sur Arches, avec envoi a.s.
One of the highlights of this part of the sale is a first edition of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit; one of the extremely rare first copies on laid Arches paper, with an estimated print run of only 20 in all. It includes an autographed inscription to Françoise Descaves, wife of the naturalist novelist Lucien Descaves (1861-1949), member of the Académie Goncourt, who Céline considered as his master.
Cocteau. Journal 1911-1912. Manuscrit inédit. 91 p. in-folio. Précieux journal de jeunesse.
The sale has a fine selection of manuscripts including an unpublished journal by a youthful Jean Cocteau. Begun in 1911, it covers the entire twenty-second year of Cocteau's life up to the summer of 1912. Its contents reveal the young poet's interest in arts and letters, while evoking in particular the triumph of the Ballets Russes in London. It also follows the books he was reading, from classics such as the Iliad to the The Portrait of Dorian Gray, as well as the progress of his own writing. This precious diary contains five autograph poems.

Works and Letters by Important Artists and Musicians

There are several lots dedicated to artists and musicians. Among the musicians are Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, and Claude Debussy, who is distinguished by a set of 21 signed autograph letters sent to André Messager, reflecting the deep esteem and friendship between the two men. Both conductor and composer, André Messager (1853-1929) conducted Pelléas and Mélisande in 1902, which Debussy dedicated to him as a sign of gratitude and this correspondence begins only a few days after the opera’s premiere.

Among the artists represented are Fernand Léger, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon as well as Paul Gauguin with a letter sent to Camille Pissarro, dated 1883. In the letter Gauguin expresses reservations about Pissarro's art and also evokes his personal difficulties at a time when he had just given up his work as a stockbroker.

And lastly, we must not forget the original drawings, notably by Alfred de Musset , Marie Laurencin, and Aristide Maillol (lots 239 to 241).

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