Auctions | April 26, 2021

Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books Totals $12.4 Million at Christie’s

Courtesy of Christie's

Detail from Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus Book of Hours, illuminated manuscript on vellum, Anjou or Le Mans, c.1440s. Sold for $3,630,000

New York – Christie’s Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books from the Collection of Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg totaled $12,405,625 and was 98% sold by lot and 92% sold by value with bidders from 23 countries participating. All proceeds from the sale will benefit The Morgan Library, the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the Redwood Athenaeum, a further testament to Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg’s philanthropy and generosity.

Courtesy of Christie's

Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus Book of Hours

Leading the collection was a masterpiece of book painting, the illuminated example of the work of the Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus, a Parisian Book of Hours, circa 1440 which achieved $3,630,000, exceeding its estimate of $1,500,000-2,500,000. The second top lot of the collection a complete first edition of the works of Plato which set a world auction record any work by Plato and totaled $1,026,000, above the estimate of $200,000-400,000. This edition was translated by Marsilio Ficino, one of the greatest scholars of Greek in the Renaissance and printed in Florence by the nuns of San Jacopo di Ripoli.

Eugenio Donadoni, Senior Specialist, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, London, comments, “This was a once-in-a-generation auction, and an emphatic endorsement of the exquisite taste and discerning eye of Alexandre and Elaine Rosenberg. It has been a privilege and a delight to have been able to work with the illuminated manuscripts and early printed books from this collection, and it shows once again how strong the market is for items of impeccable provenance, condition and quality. The Rosenberg collections of illuminated manuscripts and of early printed books were both the highest totals achieved at auction in these categories in decades. The entire sale saw exceptional results and sell-through rates (98%) with the top lot, the splendid Hours by the Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus (USD$3,63,000) joining the select handful of manuscripts that have fetched over a million dollars in the past 50 years. The first edition of the complete works of Plato, printed by the nuns of San Jacopo di Ripoli from 1484-1485, achieved a world record-breaking price for any book by Plato and for any book chiefly printed by women (USD$1,026,000).

These results are a reflection of the unrivalled service offered by Christie’s as market leader in the field and as the only international auction house with a dedicated team of illuminated manuscript specialists.”