Girshman’s Carnet de Salon Leads Bonhams Russian Lit Auction

New York—Bonhams auction of Russian Literature and Works on Paper brought spirited bidding for many of the sale’s significant lots, underscoring and celebrating the perennial interest in this area of collecting.

Most coveted was Henrietta Leon Girshman’s Carnets de Salon, which raised paddles to $230,500. Society doyenne and hostess, Girshman captured the early 20th-century artistic scene in her two-volume set of autograph albums. More than 100 inscriptions, sketches, musical passages, literary quotations and autographs tell of the creative and cultural luminaries who gathered at her and her husband’s salons at their “Red Gates” mansion in Moscow. Their gatherings of creative and cultural luminaries continued after the couple’s exile to Paris with the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Symbolist poet Andrei Belyi’s (Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev) four poems titled To Anthroposophy drew inspiration from Rudolf Steiner’s theory postulating that individuals are able to access their subconscious knowledge of the spiritual. A 1918 autograph manuscript with 16-lines in four stanzas from one of the poems soared to $23,750, out-pacing its $5,000-$7,000 estimate. 

Graphically bold and strongly colored, children’s magazines Ezh and Chizh were written and illustrated by Russian avant-garde artists under the editorial leadership of Nikolai Makarovich Oleinikov. Eighty-four issues of the two publications from 1928-1933 prompted bids to $12,500.

Osip Mandelshtam submitted three poems for publication in the first number Almanac produced in 1921 by the House of Arts, an organization that supported many writers and artists in the post-Revolution era. The Almanac offered by Bonhams contains his two published poems and his third, the 16-line poem When Psyche, Who Is Life, which Mandelshtam penned on the last page and inside the lower wrapper for a friend. His signed autograph manuscript piqued interest, sending bidding to $35,000.
Auction Guide