Bonhams Presents Rare Hand-Colored Renaissance Festival Book


New York—The Fine Books and Manuscripts auction on December 10 at Bonhams New York will be anchored by a fine selection of color-plate books that cross several genres. These books are large, luxury volumes illustrated with original engravings and lithographs, sometimes printed in color, but more often painstakingly colored by hand.

Leading the way is a magnificent copy of a justly famous Renaissance festival book recording the entrance of Pope Clement VI and Emperor Charles V after the Emperor’s coronation at Bologna in 1530, which is expected to fetch between $120,000 and $180,000. This hand-colored suite of 30 engravings is an early issue and, with its detailed early manuscript captions, is possibly the exemplar from which later issues were created. Charles V was the last monarch to receive a papal coronation and this occasion was the first time the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor was held outside of Rome in over 500 years. The Bolognese outdid themselves in celebrating both their Pope and their Emperor: both the procession and its depiction were magnificent.

The auction will present other exceptional finds, which include:

  • A rare book by Gigault De La Salle, estimated at $25,000 - 35,000, with 92 exquisite hand-colored Sicilian views and two engraved maps of Sicily that are also very rare;
  • A set of 100 hand-colored views of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, after the drawings of one of the few survivors, Christian Wilhelm von Faber du Faur No other copies of the colored edition of this book have appeared at auction in the past 40 years; estimated at $25,000 - 35,000
  • Strong selections from both 19th and 20th century literature like a prime and rare copy Charles Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club published by Chapman and Hall between April 1836 and November 1837 (est. $20,000 - 25,000); and a rare publisher's prospectus copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Samuel Clemens, one of the greatest novels in American literature (est. $4,000 - 6,000). Several other unusual publisher’s prospectuses of Clemens’ titles will also feature; and
  • The deluxe limited edition of James Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach, with illuminations made by his daughter, Lucia Joyce.  It was published in 1932 by Obelisk Press in Paris in an edition of only 25 copies, of which the present is copy number one.  Estimated at $45,000 - 75,000.

The auction will preview from December 6 - 9. 

The catalogue is now available online at

Image: Procession Following Charles V's Coronation as Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII at Bologna in 1530. Est. $120,000 - $180,000.

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