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Library of R. & B. L.: 20th C. manuscripts, autographs and first editions offered at Sotheby's Paris
Jean Cocteau, A Jean de Violette, Cahier de 13 dessins originaux au crayon et à l’encre, avec légendes et textes autographes. Daté sur la couverture : Toulon, 1931. Estimate: 25 000 – 35 000 €.

PARIS.- After the success in March 2012 of the sale of part of the R. & B. L. Library, devoted to great 20th century artists,* Sotheby’s – in association with Binoche & Giquello and expert Dominique Courvoisier – will offer another instalment of the collection for auction in Paris on October 7. The sale will take place at the Galerie Charpentier under the joint auspices of the two firms.

The appeal of the fourth sale from this marvellous Library lies mainly in its grand papier editions, many with dedications and accompanied by (often unpublished) letters and moving manuscripts evoking the loves, friendships and overlapping destinies of Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau, Raymond Radiguet and other great literary names of the 20th century. Bibliophiles will appreciate the exceptional ensemble of works by Proust, and important works by Camus, Céline, Cendrars, Jarry, Radiguet, Reverdy, Saint-Exupéry, Segalen and Charles de Gaulle.

The collection includes 35 lots devoted to Apollinaire, some with inscriptions, others with original drawings or watercolours by Apollinaire, such as a first edition of Alcools from 1913 (est. €25,000-35,000). Two moving drawings evoke Apollinaire’s time during the First World War (est. €3,000-4,000 each). Manuscripts include a cloth-bound copy of Le Médaillon Toujours Fermé with seven handwritten poems by Apollinaire dedicated to Marie Laurencin (est. €90,000-120,000); and dedications to Lou in the form of "calligrammes" – as in L’Hérésiarque et Cie (est. €15,000-20,000), Alcools (est. €35,000- 45,000), and six magnificent handwritten letters to Lou, some with poems (est. €15,000 each). There is also a strikingly original profiled portrait of Apollinaire by Picasso, drawn on the title page of Calligrammes alongside a dedication to the artist Georges Hugnet (est. €20,000-30,000).

The sale includes several important works by Camus, notably a grand papier edition of La Peste with a mosaic binding by Pierre-Lucien Martin (est. €22,000-28,000); and an inscribed dedicated copy of L’Etranger (est. €15,000-20,000).

Two dedicated copies of Voyage au Bout de la Nuit will be offered: the first, in a cloth binding, is one of 20 copies from the tirage de tête on Arches vellum (est. €100,000- 125,000); the other, on Alfa, has a Paul Bonet binding (est. €30,000-40,000). Among four Céline letters is a fine, unpublished autobiographical letter written in exile to André Dézarrois, a senior civil servant and social grandee addressed as Cher Seigneur (est. €4,000-5,000).

A 16-lot overview of the writings of Blaise Cendrars includes a copy of La Prose du Transsibérien (1913) on imitation Japon (est. €120,000-150,000); a presentation copy of his very first work, Les Pâques from 1912 (est. €3,000); and a first edition of La Main Coupée (1946) bound by Pierre-Lucien Martin (est. €1,200-1,500).

The five lots by Jean Cocteau include an unpublished manuscript about Œdipus Rex and the author’s relationship with Stravinsky (est. €30,000-40,000); and an album of 13 original drawings (est. €25,000- 35,000).

Alfred Jarry has a prominent role in the sale. Several lots concern his most famous work, Ubu Roi, including: one of 15 copies on Hollande, with a dedication to Gustave Kahn and a Paul Bonet binding (est. €30,000-40,000); an edition of the theatrical version with music by Claude Terrasse, dedicated to Sacha Guitry (est. €2,000-3,000); a rare edition of L’Almanach du Père Ubu, with a small ink portrait of Père Ubu by Jarry (est. €4,000-6,000); and Ubu Enchaîné, one of 5 copies printed on Hollande.

Another star of the sale is Marcel Proust: the 18- lot collection includes a photograph, manuscripts, autograph letters and first editions, some with dedications – to Alphonse Daudet (Les Plaisirs et Les Jours, est. €10,000-15,000); Fernand Gregh (La Bible d’Amiens and Sésame et les Lys, est. €2,000-3,000); Anna de Noailles, Colette, and Proust’s faithful governess Céleste. There is also an original drawing by Proust (est. €4,000-5,000) and one of the 50 complete copies on papier bible of the two abundantly corrected galley proofs of A L’Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs (est. €80,000-120,000). Another highlight is the precious manuscript of his famous 1920 preface for Paul Morand’s Tendres Stocks (est. €80,000-120,000).

The collection features six lots by the author of Le Diable au Corps, including a first edition on Japon (est. €12,000-15,000); a first edition of Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel, one of 10 copies printed on Chine; and, above all, the moving first draft of Cocteau’s celebrated preface to this work, with his portrait of Radiguet (est. €6,000-8,000).

There are 27 lots connected to the poet Pierre Reverdy, including the manuscript of his first work from 1915, Poèmes en Prose (est. €60,000-80,000), and various works with dedications – to Léonce Rosenberg (La Lucarne Ovale, est. €4,000-5,000), Philippe Soupault, Georges Hugnet, Cassandre, Paul Eluard and Louis de Gonzague-Frick. A first edition of Reverdy’s poems Pierres Blanches (1930) is embellished with an original Chagall ink drawing (est. €5,000-6,000).

The R. & B. L. Library includes the veritable first edition of Le Petit Prince, published in New York in 1943, in a rare copy from the 270 print-run that is numbered 40 and signed by the author (est. €10,000-15,000).

Then there is Courrier Sud, with a dedication to Malraux (est. €8,000-10,000); and two fine original drawings by Saint- Exupéry – one a self-portrait, the other a portrait of Consuelo (est. €4,000-5,000).

Several copies on grand papier will interest connoisseurs of poems by Saint-John Perse, especially the first edition of Eloges – one of the few copies on Hollande, with a binding by Pierre Legrain (est. €25,000-30,000); and the French/English edition of Poème à l’Etrangère – Pluies-Neiges, written in exile and dedicated to Malraux (est. €3,000-4,000). Another highlight is Chœur (Amers), a superb four-page autograph manuscript from 1953 (est. €5,000-6,000).

The collection features first editions of Sartre’s finest texts: La Nausée from 1938 (est. €4,000-6,000); Le Mur (1939), dedicated to Raymond Gallimard; Les Mouches (1943), copy n°1 on grand papier, with dedication to Ripault and two splendid original drawings, one by Oscar Dominguez (est. €4,000-5,000); and Les Mots (1963), one of 45 copies on Hollande (est. €3,000-4,000).

Seven lots devoted to Segalen include rare and unusual manuscripts, led by his 1906/7 article with notes on opium, La Paix à l'Opium – Autour de l'Opium (est. €8,000- 10,000). There is also a copy of Stèles on Japon Impérial from Korea, dedicated to Segalen's friend Jean Lartigue – his travelling companion in China and Tibet (est. €8,000-12,000).

The collection also contains major 20th century literary reviews and pamphlets featuring articles by leading authors of the period. These include Apollinaire in Le Festin d’Esope (1903-04), Les Soirées de Paris (1912-14) – one of the few copies on Hollande, L’Elan (1915-16), and S.I.C. (1916-19); Jean Cocteau, in Le Coq (1920); Alfred Jarry, in Perhinderion (1896) and Le Canard Sauvage (1903); Pierre Reverdy, in Revue Nord-Sud (1917-18) and L’Esprit Nouveau (1920-25); and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, in Le Grand Jeu (1928-30).

Major 20th century texts on grand papier and/or with dedications include Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes, one of the 20 copies on Hollande printed specially for the author, and dedicated to his great love Pauline Benda, also known as Madame Simone (est. €20,000- 30,000); Albert Cohen’s masterpiece Belle du Seigneur (est. €3,000-4,000); a tirage de tête copy of Julien Gracq’s Le Rivage des Syrtes with a binding by Pierre-Lucien Martin (est. €6,000-8,000); James Joyce’s Ulysses, one of 150 copies on Arches complete with its original binding (est. €30,000-40,000); Jacques Prévert’s Paroles, one of the first ten copies printed on Madagascar (est. €25,000-35,000); Maurice Sachs’ Le Sabbat, one of the first six copies on Johannot, bound by Pierre-Lucien Martin (est. €6,000-8,000); a grand papier first edition of André Malraux’s La Condition Humaine (est. €20,000-25,000); Valéry Larbaud’s A.O. Barnabooth (1913) on grand papier with a Paul Bonet binding (est. €20,000-25,000); and a dedicated copy of Charles de Gaulle’s Discorde chez l’Ennemi (1924), his first book (est. €4,000-5,000).

* R. & B.L. Library: Modern Illustrated Books, total €4.5m (Sotheby’s/Binoche & Giquello, 28/3/12)

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