Auctions | October 15, 2014

20th-Century German Artists Highlighted at PBA Galleries

Important works, letters and original art by Hermann Hesse from a private collection will be highlighted at the October 23rd PBA Galleries Literature, Illustrated & Children’s Books, Oz and Books in All Fields sale.  Also offered are significant German Expressionist publications from between the world wars, including a number of works illustrated by George Grosz.  The sale concludes with fine bindings and sets, striking illustrated books, literary highspots, imaginative children’s books and the wonderland of Oz.

Hermann Hesse began painting in his forties, particularly after he moved to the picturesque town of Montagnola, Switzerland, close to the Italian border. Many of his early watercolors are of the places he lived and loved. He wrote, “I have shown my appreciation to the old houses and stone roofs, the garden wall, the chestnut trees, the near and far away mountains, by painting, using hundreds of good sheets of drawing paper, many tubes of water paints, and drawing pencils.” This sentiment can be seen in the nine lots of eleven original watercolor works being offered by Hesse. Two original watercolors from 1922 and 1925 on either side of a single sheet of paper depict a home and the surrounding landscape (Estimate: $10,000/$15,000).

A typed poem with a small watercolor sketch by Hesse is affixed to the front free endpaper of an expanded second edition of Unterwegs and is initialed by Hesse at the bottom (Estimate:  $2,000/$3,000).  Also offered at the sale is a signed autograph letter with an original watercolor scene of a few buildings overlooking a lake with mountains in the distance (Estimate:  $2,000/$3,000).  A first printing of perhaps his best known and most important work, Siddhartha, is also for sale.  This copy is inscribed, signed and dated January 1923 (Estimate:  $3,000/$5,000).

Georg Heym’s Umbra vitae nachgelassene Gedichte was originally published in 1912. The 1924 limited edition is illustrated with 47 original and striking woodcuts by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  Kirchner was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or "The Bridge", a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art.  In 1933, his work was branded as "degenerate" by the Nazis and in 1937 over 600 of his works were sold or destroyed. (Estimate:  $5,000/$8,000).

George Grosz and Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix were widely considered the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity German art movement.  Grosz captured the resignation and cynicism of post -World War I Germany with his caustic caricatures.  Richard Huelsenbeck’ Phantastische Gebete, Berlin: 1920, is the scarce second edition of poetry and other writings by the Socialist founder of the Berlin Dada group.  Illustrated by Grosz, it is one of a number of works with drawings by him in the auction (Estimate:  $1,000/$1,500).  Der Krieg: 24 Offsetdrucke nach Originalen aus dem Radierwerk gives stark depictions of WWI and life in the trenches through etchings by Dix (Estimate:  $300/$500).

Other notable highlights of the sale include the very rare Illustrations of Indian Zoology, 1833-4, by John Edward Gray, the second volume of a two-volume set, with 102 striking hand-colored lithographed plates (Estimate:  $10,000/$15,000); a set of 14 Oz books specially bound for Patricia Taurog, daughter of Hollywood director Norman Taurog, who directed the test scenes of the Wizard of Oz (Estimate:  $4,000/$5,000); the first Russian language printing of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic The International Jew (Estimate:  $3,000/$5,000); and an original 7-page carbon typescript for a radio play by John Steinbeck, “The Raid” (Estimate:  $2,000/$3,000).

The sale will begin at 11:00am Pacific Time.  The public may preview the auction Monday, October 20th, 1-5pm; Tuesday and Wednesday, October 21st and 22nd, 9am - 5pm; and Thursday, October 23rd, 9 - 11am or by appointment at PBA Galleries in San Francisco.  For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or