Important Medical Books and Rimbaud Manuscripts to be Auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 10.43.22 AM.pngParis, January 2017—The sale of books and manuscripts on 8 February will open with an extremely fine selection of antique books on Medicine (including the last books from Jean Blondelet's library), Natural Science and Literature. The sale of three remarkable manuscripts in Rimbaud's hand will be a major event.

REMARKABLE COLLECTION OF ARTHUR RIMBAUD WORKS

Plaisirs du jeune âge. Seven autograph manuscript drawings, 1865 (lot 86, estimate: €100,000-150,000).

These are the first known drawings by Arthur Rimbaud, dated from 1865 when he was 10. The notebook containing these drawings belonged to the bibliophile Jacques Guérin; the rest of the book is now one of the treasures in the Rimbaud Museum in Charleville-Mézières, but these exceptional drawings were still in private hands. They are some of the only ones that can be attributed to the poet with certainty. They reflect the world of a young poet already critical of the world around him: for example, we see the enactment of a mass, prefiguring the anticlericalism of the poet's Premières Communions, the literary parody of a Scandinavian legend and the first known self-portrait by Rimbaud.

Les caractères de Théophraste, 1866. Prize book received by Rimbaud in 1870 (lot 87, estimate: €8,000-12,000) 

A brilliant student in his final year, Arthur Rimbaud received this book as a prize at the age of 15 from the principal of his school. "A testimony to the highly satisfactory work of the pupil Rimbaud (Rhetoric class)," wrote the headmaster. Later, as indicated by an ex-libris, this book belonged to Paul Eluard: never mentioned as regards this copy, this provenance is important knowing Rimbaud's considerable influence on the Surrealists. 

La rivière de Cassis, June or July 1872 (lot 88, estimate: €200,000-300,000)

This poem’s manuscript, one of considerable modernity and freedom, is the one Rimbaud copied for Paul Verlaine. We know another version, now in the Bibliothèque Nnationale de France, but Verlaine's version is the most accomplished and stands out for three reasons: it has no date, no title and no punctuation. The extremely modern poems of this period are among Rimbaud's last verses.

Receipt from Harar made out to Armand Savouré, on behalf of Menelik II, in June 1889 (lot 89, estimate: €30,000-40,000) 

While Rimbaud's years in Harar largely contributed to his legend, we know little about them. This receipt sums up two months of the poet's activity in Harar while he was an arms dealer, as it recapitulates the last arms transactions he organised for Menelik II, between 23 May and 22 June 1889. This receipt is one of the longest listed (112 words), one of the few to be signed twice by Rimbaud and one of the only ones to mention Emperor Menelik, although he ordered the weapons. It is all the more exceptional as it is still only partially unpublished.

ANTIQUE BOOKS

From the library of Jean Blondelet While the selection of books from this exceptional library, successfully sold on 31 May last year, focused on the great discoveries of medicine, the books coming up for auction on 8 February contain treatises on the consequences of these discoveries and the progress they enabled. This final selection will be a new opportunity for book collectors to admire copies of rare editions in original bindings from prestigious provenances, illustrating the high standards the great collector Jean Blondelet always applied when choosing his books.

Two copies of Jérôme Cardan's Subtilités will appeal to collectors. One of them is in a remarkable ornate original binding in gilt vellum: a luxury rarely allowed to books on medicine (lot 10, estimate: €3,000-5,000). The Tabulae anatomicae by Casserio are appropriately bound with the treatises of his pupil Spigelius, in first editions (lot 11, estimate: €5,000-7,000). A pioneer in research on brain pathologies who coined the term "neurologia" or neurology, Thomas Willis is represented by two copies with outstanding provenances, including the first edition of 1664 of Cerebri anatome (lot 60, estimate: €4,000-5,000).

The sale also includes an exceptional compendium of the four greatest treatises by the celebrated anatomist Fabricius ab Acquapendente, in folio editions, bound with a coat of arms by one of his students (lot 18, estimate: €20,000-30,000). These four treatises, magnificently illustrated with fine copper engravings, deal with the valves of the veins, the nutrition of the foetus and the vocal organs of human animals.

Among the books with extraordinary provenances, a precious example by the naturalist Aldrovandi in a morocco binding with the arms of Jacques Auguste de Thou (lot 1, estimate: €6,000 - 9,000), will be opening the sale. There is also a Geometry by Dürer that once belonged to Nostradamus (lot 39, estimate: €12,000-18,000), a copy of the memoirs of Larrey, first surgeon to the Emperor, which he gave to Napoleon's adopted son, Eugène de Beauharnais (lot 28, estimate: €6,000-9,000), and the first collective publication of Paracelsus from the library of the greates of alchemists' patrons, Moritz of Hesse “the Learned” (lot 43, estimate: €20,000-30,000).

Natural science and medicine

A masterpiece of natural science, a very fine coloured copy of Nederlansische Vogelen by Cornelius Nozeman (lot 41, estimate: €10,000-15,000) presented the first overview of Holland's birds and was the most expensive publication ever undertaken in the Netherlands. In this category, it is accompanied by Seligmann's Vogelen with 473 hand-coloured figures (lot 51, estimate: €12,000-18,000), and a beautiful morocco-bound book on hummingbirds by Lesson (lot 30, estimate: €2,000-3,000). Worth noting: a very rare and fine copy of Deux livres de chirurgie (1573) by Ambroise Paré in period vellum (lot 44, estimate: €8,000 -12,000).

Literature and history

A superb copy of Barthélémy's Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce is one of 18 magnificent published on very large paper (lot 4, estimate: €12,000-18,000). Collectors will undoubtedly be fired up by the very early and unpublished manuscript of Boulainvilliers' Jugements astronomiques sur les nativités (lot 7, estimate: €8,000-12,000). Also noteworthy is the fabulous Coutumier de Normandie, an editio princeps (1483) in period binding (lot 15, estimate: €15,000-20,000), and lastly a splendid copy of the Cours d'hippiatrique by Lafosse (lot 27, estimate: €13,000-18,000), magnificently coloured, also in a period binding.

19TH AND 20TH CENTURY BOOKS

19th century artists' letters

This sale features letters from great artists of the 19th century, including Degas, Ingres, Lucien Pissarro, Odilon Redon (lot 85, estimate: €1,800-2,200), and Paul Signac (lot 92, estimate: €3,000-5,000). We can also mention letters from the inventor of photography, Nicéphore Niépce, on his financial situation with his creditors (lot 82, estimate: €25,000-30,000) and several letters from Hector Berlioz writing about the French revolution of 1830 (lot 66, estimate: €4,000-5,000) or standing up for his new wife (lot 67, estimate: €5,000-7,000).

20th Century books and manuscripts

The section devoted to the 20th century features books by contemporary artists published by the Editions du Solstice, including the rare La Nouvelle chute de l'Amérique (The New Fall of America) by Roy Lichtenstein (lot 119, estimate: €35,000-50,000) and Ode à ma mère by Louise Bourgeois (lot 100, estimate: €15,000-20,000). The illustrated books also include Pomme endormie, one of the few deluxe copies on Japan paper with 16 signed lithographs by Giacometti (lot 114, estimate: €20,000-25,000), together with a rare copy on green paper of 1929, a famous erotic work by Man Ray, here bound by Jean de Gonet (lot 121, estimate: €10,000-15,000), and rare editions of Joan Miro, Gustav Klimt, Nicolas de Staël, also with original contributions by Hans Bellmer, Pablo Picasso, Jacques Prévert and Salvador Dalí.

The catalogue features some major literary manuscripts as well - for example, an autograph letter from Guillaume Apollinaire to Lou containing two long poems (lot 95, estimate: €30,000-50,000). Jean Genet shines with one of his finest texts, Pour un funambule (lot 112, estimate: €9,000-12,000), a tribute to his acrobat lover, and a large collection of letters to his translator and American literary agent, mostly unpublished (lot 113, estimate: €35,000-45,000). Finally, the manuscript of Jean-Paul Sartre's last novel is a genuine literary rediscovery (lot 140, estimate: €14,000-18,000).

Auction: Wednesday 8 February

Exhibition: 3, 4, 6 and 7 February

Auction Guide