Auctions | November 11, 2016

Exquisite & Educational Objets d'Art in Swann Galleries' December Sale

128-Horizonte copy.jpgNew York— On Thursday, December 1, Swann Galleries’ Books & Manuscripts department will offer Art, Press & Illustrated Books, with highlights in every category.

The sale is led by a set of the exceedingly rare Stridentist journal, Horizonte (1926-1927), edited by Leopoldo Méndez and illustrated by Ramón Alva del Canal and Diego Rivera, among others. It is the most complete run ever to be offered at auction, with nine of the ten issues present, and six highly uncommon supplements. The set is expected to sell between $20,000 and $30,000.

The top lot of the sale is Gustav Klimt’s Das Werk, the artist’s only lifetime monograph. Klimt prepared the volume with his friend, the Viennese publisher Hugo Heller, between 1908 and 1918. The work features fifty richly printed collotype plates of iconic works, including Pallas Athena, The Kiss, and The Sunflower, with ten in color and heightened in gold and silver. Of the 300 copies, few have survived; this one, numbered 103, is estimated at $45,000 to $60,000.

Other notable treasures include Ashendene Press editions of Le Morte d'Arthur, 1913, by Sir Thomas Malory, of which only 155 copies were printed, and a copy of John Milton’s Paradise Regain’d, 1905, printed in Doves type ($4,000 to $6,000 and $2,000 to $3,000, respectively). Also available is a 1908 Insel-Verlag edition of Friedrich Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra, designed by Henry van de Velde and bound by Eleanore Ramsey, estimated at $8,000 to $10,000.

The sale features a run of books on architecture, from Owen Biddle’s Young Carpenter’s Assistant, 1833, which set the precedent for American architectural styles, to the first edition in French of the first major illustrated publication on the ruins of Palmyra, Les Ruines de Palmyre autrement dite Tedmor, 1753, by Robert Wood and James Dawkins (each 1,500 to $2,500).

American highlights include a vibrantly colored six-volume set of original textile block prints from the Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project ($4,000 to $6,000), as well as a rare copy of The Cubies' ABC by Mary Mills and Earl Harvey Lyall. The book is a witty attack on modern art, created in the wake of the famous 1913 Armory Show. Written in rhyme, this rare alphabet book is expected to sell between $7,000 and $10,000.

Also available is a series of printed calling cards and invitations commissioned by Gilded Age New York City elites, including the Astors and Vanderbilts, compiled by the printer himself, one G.D. Carroll in Love: Compositions of Eminent Persons of Golden Ages ($300 to $400), and a limited edition copy of The Book-Lover’s Almanac for the Year 1893 with twelve book-related illustrations, once owned by contributor Eugene Field and signed by the printer Theodore Low De Vinne ($600 to $900).

Another highlight, Le Paradis Musulman, by François-Louis Schmied and Joseph-Charles Mardrus, features intricate color woodblock illustrations throughout; the title page alone used 45 different blocks. Schmied included two self-portraits in the book, which is estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. Schmied also had a hand in another offered work: he designed Maurice de Guérin’s Poèmes en Prose, 1928, illustrated and inscribed by George Barbier ($6,000 to $9,000).

No sale of Illustrated Books would be complete without a storybook section: a charming 1926 limited edition of Fairyland by Australian duo Annie R. Rentoul and Grenby Outhwaite boasts 18 color plates and 32 black-and-white plates depicting fairies gallivanting with such spectacles as the moon, as well as endemic animals, including koalas and kiwis. Other children’s highlights include Mon Chat, 1930, by Russian Constructivist artist Nathalie Parain ($700 to $1,000), and Maxfield Parrish’s The Knave of Hearts, 1925 ($2,000 to $3,000).

Among several unique handmade books in the sale is an unusually elaborate pedagogical workbook based on Wilhelm August Fröbel's System of Gifts, 1894. Distributed to classrooms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the kits contained various paper and string collage projects which introduced children to concepts such as shapes, textures, and patterns (called "gifts"), and explored their physical manipulation through folding, sewing and other activities, which he called "occupations." The most intricate and complete copy to come to auction, it is valued at $800 to $1,200.

Classical works include an eighteenth-century Venetian drawing manual, Piazetta's Studi di Pittura gia dissegnati with engravings by Marco Pitteri, 1760, estimated at $5,000 to $7,500. Works on Chinese art, performing arts, and modern and contemporary art round out the sale.

The auction will be held on Thursday, December 1, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening Monday, November 28 through Wednesday, November 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, December 1 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at 212-254-4710, extension 20, or via e-mail at

Image: Lot 128 Leopoldo Méndez, Horizonte, nine issues and rare supplements of the famed Stridentist journal, with illustrations by Diego Rivera, 1926-27. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.