Romantic Illustrated Books and First Editions at Sotheby’s Paris

Paris - Sotheby’s, on October 10th, in Paris, in association with Binoche & Giquello, will auction off a new chapter of the remarkable library of R. & B. L. The sale will take place in the Galerie Charpentier under the hammers of both auction houses. On this occasion, the expert Dominique Courvoisier will team up with the specialists of Sotheby's. 

This sixth part is devoted to the Romantic period. Its two catalogues comprise a large collection of illustrated books and posters by Daumier, Grandville and Gavarni, together with first editions, autographs and drawings of exceptional quality by authors including Balzac, Borel, Chateaubriand, Custine, Desbordes-Valmore, Dumas, Forneret, Hugo, Lamartine, Mérimée, Musset, Stendhal, Sand and Vigny.

Copies in these two collections are in extraordinarily fresh condition, in period bindings, often signed and some of them richly decorated. 

The originality and rarity of this library lies in the fact that different copies of the same text cohabitate in diverse period bindings, or by great binders of the early 20th century when bound later, with their illustrated covers. These copies, often cited in bibliographies, often bear prestigious provenances such as Laurent Meeûs, Henri Beraldi or Victor Mercier.


Central to this collection, Grandville is largely represented through his advertising, his animal drawings and 43 original dip pen drawings featured in an extraordinary, unique copy of the Aventures de Robinson Crusoë (estimate: ??25,000/35,000).

Often decorated with gilt or polychrome plates, these copies are in exceptional condition, like one of the Métamorphoses du Jour (estimate: ??15,000/20,000), the work that made Grandville's reputation, and that of Un Autre Monde (estimate: ??20,000/30,000).



The collection features an impressive set of first editions, letters, autograph manuscripts as well as magnificent ink drawings in Victor Hugo's hand. 

The outstanding lot is an unpublished relic of Victor Hugo's love life, a manuscript compilation of notes addressed to his great love, Juliette Drouet, who followed him into exile. This Autograph Notebook dates from 1834, the first period of their relationship. In it, Hugo proclaimed his love to Juliette almost every day, so that she could read it before going to sleep (estimate: ??70,000/90,000). 

Six magnificent original drawings of landscapes, seascapes and monuments include a striking Gibet de Montfaucon (estimate: ??80,000/120,000). This horrific symbol of the Ancien Régime is described by Hugo, who was intensely opposed to capital punishment, in Notre Dame de Paris, as "that deep charnel house where so many human remains and so many crimes have rotted together". 


The collection includes several first editions by the author of the Comédie Humaine, in extremely rare period bindings, including a superb first edition of Mémoire de deux jeunes mariées stamped with the monogram of the EmpressMarie-Louise, Duchess of Parma (estimate: ??12,000/15,000), and an exquisite copy of Vautrin containing a signed autograph envoi to the great Romantic actress Marie Dorval (estimate: ??15,000/20,000). 

The most remarkable set of autographs are the celebrated Letters to Louise: precious private correspondence, described by his biographer as a real "romantic quest", to a woman whose identity Balzac never knew (estimate: ??40,000/60,000).


The collection includes the first two plays by this prolific writer of drama and historical novels: Henri III et sa Cour and Trilogie sur la vie de Christine, offered to the famous tragic actress Mademoiselle George (estimate: ??35,000/45,000) whose name is stamped in Gothic letters in the centre of an inlaid binding masterpiece by Thouvenin. It comes with three autograph letters, two of which by Alexandre Dumas.

Also worth noting is one of the finest known copies of the first edition of Les Trois Mousquetaires in a remarkably well-preserved period binding (estimate: ??50,000/80,000).


Stendhal is represented by an extremely rare example of the very first run of Histoire de la Peinture en Italie containing a handsome envoi to Paul-Louis Courier, the famous pamphleteer whom the author much admired (estimate: ??30,000/40,000). His two most famous novels also feature: Le Rouge et Le Noir (estimate: ??30,000/50,000) and La Chartreuse de Parme (estimate: ??30,000/50,000), both first editions in fine Romantic bindings, as well as a splendid set of autograph letters.


The two celebrated lovers are reunited in this collection through a group of first editions in contemporary bindings, some with envois, as well as drawings, letters and manuscripts, including Sand's astonishing critical study on Hugo and L’Année terrible (estimate: ??7,000/10,000) and an amusing illustrated letter from Musset to his "godmother" in which he depicts himself bowing before her (estimate: ??4,000/6,000).

Auction at Sotheby’s Paris -10 October 2017

Exhibition: 6-7-9 October 2017