Auctions | November 4, 2015

Fine Press Books, Bold Graphic Design, and Bright Livres D’Artiste at Swann Galleries


New York—On Tuesday, November 24, Swann Galleries’ Books & Manuscripts department will offer Art, Press & Illustrated Books.

The sale is headlined by Marcel Schwob’s Vies Imaginaires. Illustrated by George Barbier, the book was designed by François-Louis Schmied ($20,000 to $30,000). This is Barbier’s personal copy, one of 120 books printed for members of Le Livre Contemporarian, with a bound-in menu signed by Barbier and 39 other members in attendance at the society’s annual dinner in 1929. Also featured is a Kelmscott Press printing of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted, one of only 425 copies, Hammersmith, 1896 (estimate $45,000 to $60,000). The most famous book of the modern private press movement, the intricately illuminated text took years to create, and features woodcuts by Edward Burne-Jones.


Other books that feature pairings of influential artists and writers are a Limited Editions Club copy of Aristophanes Lysistrata, illustrated by Pablo Picasso ($5,000 to $7,500). The text includes six etched plates and numerous illustrations. Also included is a copy of Maurice Sendak’s illustrated Poems from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, one of only 275 copies from the first and only printing, London, 1967 ($2,500 to $3,500), the text is signed and inscribed by Sendak to children’s book publisher William Scott.

Fine Livres d’Artiste include Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s L’Album des Douze Lithographies Originales, with a plate list and complete set of 12 lithographs, Paris, 1919 ($15,000 to $25,000); a limited edition copy of Henri Matisse’s Cinquante Dessins, signed by the artist, Paris, 1920 ($3,000 to $4,000); and Georges Braque’s Braque Lithographe, with three color lithographs signed by Braque, Monte Carlo, 1963 ($3,500 to $5,000).

Featured are a selection of books on graphic design, printing and typography, including Herbert Matter’s Trademarks and Symbols, a 2-volume set original maquette for an unpublished book by the master designer, 1960s ($3,000 to $4,000); and 26 issues of PM [Later A-D] An intimate Journal for Production Managers, Art Directors and their Associates, edited by Robert L. Leslie and Percy Seitlin, New York, 1937-41 ($1,500 to $2,500).  

Works of collaboration come in the form of a selection of Fluxus material, including Stereo Headphones 8-9-10, containing the scarce 45 RPm record of Henri Chopin’s “Le Temps Aujord’hui,” along with 5 additional Fluxus magazines, Brisbane, 1982 ($600 to $900). Another set featuring multiple practitioners comes from Tiber Press’s multi-volume New York School masterpiece, Permanently, The Poems, Odes and Salute, with works by poets Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery with prints by Alfred Leslie, Grace Hartigan, Michael Goldberg and Joan Mitchell, New York, 1960, ($12,000 to $18,000).

A titillating NSFW section of the sale comes in the form of select Curiosa, including Charles Martin’s Mascarades et Amusettes, with engraved titles and 24 plates by Martin, this is number 11 of only 63 copies of this rare work, Paris, 1933 ($6,000 to $9,000); a copy of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester’s play Sodom: Ein Spiel, translated by Théophile Marquardt, Liepzig, 1909 ($3,500 to $5,000). Number 316 of only 350 copies privately printed for subscribers, this scarce, obscene restoration closet drama features a title illustration and 15 raunchy, erotic Sessionist-style plates by Julius Klinger. The Curiosa section also features with two works by Danish illustrator and painter Gerda Wegener: Une aventure d’amour a Venise, with G. Casanova de Seingalt, Paris, (1927) ($2,500 to $3,500); and Douze Sonnets lascifs poour accompagner la suite d’aquarelles intitule Les Délassements d’Eros, with Alexandre de Vérineau, 12 pochoirs after watercolors by Wegener produced to accompany erotically charged sonnets by Perceau, (Paris) ?rotopolis, 1924 ($2,000 to $3,000).

The auction will be split into two sessions on Tuesday November 24, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening Friday, November 20 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, November 21 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, November 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, November 24 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 [email protected].

First image: Marcel Schwob, Vies Imaginaires, with illustrations by George Barbier and François-Louis Schmied, Barbier's copy, with a menu bound-in and signed by 39 members of Le Livre Contemporain, a full additional suite on Japan paper, and binding by Cretté, Paris, 1929. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

Second image: Kelmscott Press, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted, first edition, Hammersmith, 1896. Estimate $45,000 to $60,000.