The 107-lot sale of Books & Manuscripts at Sothebys
Paris on 18 May 2011 will include an extraordinary 113-page ensemble of unknown drafts by Robespierre, written at the height of the Terror; a fascinating collection of letters from the House of Habsburg, spanning 1443-1823; first editions of works by Stendhal, Maupassant, Verlaine, Céline and Romain Gary; an unknown typescript of Le Petit Prince, illustrated with seven original drawings; handwritten texts by Jean Cocteau and Marcel Pagnol; and a delightful array of modern illustrated books including the famous Pop Art masterpiece 1¢ Life in decorative bindings by Legrain, Leroux and Jean de Gonet.
Habsburg Letters & Documents
The sale gets underway with an important, 17-lot ensemble consisting of personal, family and political correspondence from the Austrian House of Habsburg, From Charles V to Francis II, spanning the period 1443-1823 and including: letters patent and illuminated titles of nobility awarded by Charles V, Philip II and Maria Theresa; letters to French Kings (notably Louis XIV and Louis XVIII) and Napoleon; a title of nobility in the hand of Ferdinand II, granted to the Freisauff brothers in 1631 for services rendered during the Thirty Years War (estimate: 8,000-12,000*); a diploma of ennoblement and knighthood awarded by Emperor Charles VI to the Rombaut brothers and their mother in 1717 (est. 11,000-15,000); an important ensemble of letters from Habsburg emperors and empresses from the period 1630-1775 (est. 7,000-9000); and eleven letters signed by the Kings of Spain between 1551-1810 (est. 6,000-8,000).
Exceptional Array of Unknown Robespierre Working Papers (January 1792 July1794)
The sale's most eagerly awaited lot promises to be an array of 113 pages written by Robespierre, in the Jacobin supremo's small but legible handwriting, complete with corrections and crossings-out. These rough drafts date from January 1792 to July 1794, and were owned for over 200 years by the descendents of Robespierre's friend Philippe Le Bas. Spontaneously jotted down, they reveal the unpublished thoughts of the French Revolution's most fertile thinker and original lawmaker (est. 200,000-300,000). Along with scattered notes, the ensemble comprises fragments of five speeches and four articles, from Discours des Jacobins sur la Guerre (25 January 1792) to Robespierre's famous Discours du 8 Thermidor (26 July 1794), the speech he delivered on the eve of his death, and an important letter to an unknown correspondent about Robespierre's major philosophical concern: the difficult relationship between Happiness, virtue and Freedom.
19th & 20th Century Books & Manuscripts
Another sale highlight is a first edition (and superb library copy) of Stendhal's Le Rouge et Le Noir in a charming, original half-calf binding (est. 40,000-60,000). There will also be dedicated first editions of works by Barbey dAurevilly; Maupassant; Verlaine, with a soft-cover edition of Les Poèmes Saturniens (Saturnine Poems, est. 2,000-3,000); Pierre Louÿs with Léda, dedicated to André Gide (est. 10,000-15,000); and Céline, with Mort à Crédit (Death on Credit), again with author's dedication (est. 8,000-12,000).
Two lots evoke the female friendships of Jean Cocteau: the delicate fan-poem with Japan-style landscape which Cocteau gave Misia Sert in 1912 (est. 3,000-5,000); and his handwritten manuscript, embellished with the artist's self-portrait, evoking the creative approach and finesse of Marie Laurencin (est. 20,000-30,000).
Albert Camus also figures prominently, with the corrected proofs of the 1956 reprinting of his first literary work, LEnvers et lEndroit (The Two Sides of the Coin), containing the important preface written for the occasion (est. 8,000-12,000); and the first edition of LExil et Le Royaume (Exile and the Kingdom), published in 1957, with an elegant 1984 binding by Jean de Gonet (est. 15,000-20,000).
Also to be offered is 1¢ Life (1964): the 'Book of a Generation', illustrated with coloured lithographs by Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Sam Francis, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Bram van Velde, Andy Warhol and numerous other American and European Pop Artists. This album of poems, graphics and original lithographs written by Walasse Ting and edited by Sam Francis is a sort of Whos Who of the Pop Art and Cobra movements, and hails from the famous Feinsilber Collection. Its sumptuous Leroux binding dates from 1987 (est. 100,000-150,000).
Bindings by Jean de Gonet
The sale includes seven books bound by that most inventive of contemporary binders, Jean de Gonet notably two works by Jacques Prévert: Paroles (1945), in a unique vermilion RIM binding (est. 30,000-40,000), and Fêtes (1971), illustrated by Calder, in an equally impressive RIM binding (est. 30,000-40,000). There are also sumptuously bound editions of two works of genius by Romain Gary (writing under the pseudonym Emile Ajar): La Vie devant Soi (The Life Before Us) from 1975 (est. 6,000-8,000), and LAngoisse du Roi Salomon (King Solomon) from 1979 (est. 3,000-4,000). Both bindings date from 1981 and the start of De Gonet's career.
Unpublished Petit Prince Typescript with Seven Original Drawings
Following the autograph manuscript of Au Centre du Désert the pivotal chapter of Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars) sold for 312,750 in June 2009, and the previously unknown 1942 Kodachrome film of Saint-Exupéry and Consuelo which brought 67,950 in May 2010, Sotheby's Paris are delighted to offer Saint-Exupéry connoisseurs the chance to acquire a newly-discovered typescript of Le Petit Prince, accompanied by seven original drawings. This is the fifth typewritten version of the text to have come to light, after that in France's Bibliothèque Nationale, the one formerly owned by Saint-Exupéry's American translator Lewis Galantière, and two others in private hands (est. 40,00060,000).
Friday 13 May 10am-6pm
Saturday 14 May 10am-6pm
Monday 16 May 10am-6pm
Tuesday 17 May 10am-6pm
* estimates do not include buyer's premium