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Sotheby's Paris announces the sale of the Library of the Ducs de Luynes Chateau de Dampierre
View of the bibliothèque au château de Dampierre. Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio.

PARIS.- Sotheby’s announced the sale of the Library of the Ducs de Luynes from the Château of Dampierre – one of the most important private libraries in France. The sale runs to nearly 1000 lots, charting the history of an illustrious family intimately linked to the history of France since the 17th century. Most of the books are bound in morocco or calf and embellished with the arms of the Luynes family. The majestic scope of the Library ranges from history, genealogy and literature to travel, philosophy, religion and music.

The sale of the Library will be in two parts. The first auction, devoted the period from Louis XIII to the Revolution, will be held at the Galerie Charpentier on 29 & 30 April 2013. The second part will take place in Autumn 2013, and will be devoted to 16th-19th century archeological and historical books about the Mediterranean assembled by Honoré, 8th Duc de Luynes (1802-67) – a noted archeologist and patron of the arts.

Dominique Laucournet, specialist in charge of the sale, said ‘the sale of a Library of this stature will be a landmark event in the eyes of bibliophiles and connoisseurs of antiquarian books. No such library has appeared on the market since the Library of the Château of La Roche-Guyon, from the estate of Gilbert de La Rochefoucauld, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1987.’

The Dampierre Library was initiated under Marie de Rohan Montbazon (1600-79), immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in his Mousquetaires trilogy as the wife of Charles d’Albert, Duc de Luynes – a favourite of Louis XIII, and one of the plotters thanked by the King for engineering the assassination of Concino Concini in 1617.

One of the most fascinating items in the Library is a unique album recording the celebrations staged in Paris to mark the wedding of Louis XV’s son the Dauphin to the Infanta of Spain in 1745. The album is adorned with 19 original watercolours and presented in a boxed ensemble clad in morocco and featuring the Luynes ceremonial coat-of-arms (est. €200,000-300,000 / $261,000-392,000)*.

Androuet du Cerceau’s Les Plus Excellents Bastiments de France (1576-1607), with the first Château de Dampierre among the buildings illustrated, will be one of the sale’s most eagerly awaited antiquarian books. The château was rebuilt by Mansard under Honoré d’Albert, Duc de Chevreuse, around 1670 (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000).

The travel section, assembled mainly in the 18th century, includes several works about China – notably Jean-Baptiste du Halde’s four-volume Description de l’Empire de la Chine (1735), adorned with 65 maps and plates and the Luynes family arms (est. €20,000-30,000 / $26,000-39,000).

Another travel highlight is a copy of Sonnerat’s Voyage aux Indes orientales (1732), illustrated with 140 original colour plates about Indian life and customs (est. €20,000-30,000 / $26,000-39,000). The library also includes numerous books about America, Canada, Africa, Russia and Asia.

The Dukes of Luynes formed a great military family and assembled an important array of militaria books, replete with works about the Thirty Years War, the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) and the War of Austrian Succession. Works on military tactics include a manuscript copy of Vauban’s Traité de l’Attaque et de la Defense des Places, illustrated with watercolour plates (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000); and a Recueil des Chartes, Créations et Confirmations des Capitaines de Paris (1770) bound in morocco with the Luynes family arms (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000).

The section also includes a collection of maps about various military campaigns, both hand-drawn and printed, mostly with watercolour highlights. These will offered in several combined lots, one including the Battle of Fontenoy – perhaps best remembered for the immortal exhortation to the British to fire first: ‘Messieurs les Anglais, tirez les premiers’ (est. €30,000-40,000 / $39,000-52,000). Other highlights here include the very rare Plan de l’Action de Gloucester, charting the encounter between the victorious Lafayette and the forces directed by Lord Cornwallis on 25 November 1777 during the War of American Independence (est. €60,000-80,000 / $78,000-104,000). All these unique documents reflect the Luynes family’s involvement in military events of the period.

Towards the end of the 18th century the 6th Duc de Luynes, who was close to the philosophes and physiocrats, brought the Library into the Age of Enlightenment by acquiring a first Paris edition of Montesquieu’s De L'Esprit des Lois, along with works by Necker and Adam Smith and the first edition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discours sur l’origine et les Fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000). It was largely thanks to the 6th Duke that the Library survived the French Revolution unscathed. He was arrested in 1793 but released at the demand of the inhabitants of Dampierre, and spent the troubled years that followed unmolested in his château.

The Library’s literary section features a six-volume edition of La Fontaine’s Fables (1765-75) illustrated by Fessard and bound in red morocco with the Luynes arms (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000). A 1780 Spanish edition of Don Quixote in red morocco, adorned with the lion of Luynes, evokes the memory of the illustrious Infanta who married the Dauphin in 1745 (est. €20,000-30,000 / $26,000-39,000).

The Luynes family’s close links with French royalty are reflected by the presence of the Missel de Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, second wife to the Dauphin and mother of three kings: Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. The missal is bound with her arms and adorned with embossed dolphins (est. €10,000-15,000 / $13,000-20,000). Cardinal Paul d’Albert de Luynes was Chaplain to the Dauphine, while his brother Charles-Philippe was close to Queen Maria Lescinzka, who often stayed at the Château de Dampierre. Louis XIV and Louis XV were other frequent guests, as was Anne of Austria; Charles-Philippe d’Albert de Luynes kept an important diary about these events and life at court.

The Library also includes an important ensemble of 18th century musical scores, both handwritten and printed, bound in green vellum and/or with the Luynes arms – including opera tunes, harpsichord music and works by Lully, Glück, Rameau, Haydn.

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