On May 4th, 2017, PBA Galleries will offer over 350 lots of enchanting, intriguing, attractive and visually stimulating illustrated books, prints and materials on the decorative arts, along with significant editions of important children’s literature. In addition, rare works by L. Frank Baum and other authors from the Land of Oz, and a selection of fine books in a variety of fields, including finely bound literary and historical sets round out the sale.
A highlight of the sale is a complete set of Andrew Lang first editions. The twenty-four-volume set is beautifully bound by Bayntun and includes all thirteen of his fairy books. The binding is full green polished calf, boards bordered in gilt, spines gilt, red morocco labels, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. The Fairy Books are uniformly stamped on the spines and the others have spine decorations appropriate for their contents. Original cloth bound in at the rear of each volume. (estimate: $15,000-$20,000)
A splendid and uncommon three-volume folio Dutch Bible from 1728, is beautifully illustrated with over 200 spectacular hand-colored copper-engraved plates, nearly 30 of them are double-page, after Bernard Picart, Gerard Hoet and Jacob Houbrahen. …more
On Thursday, April 27, Swann Galleries will offer Printed & Manuscript Americana, offering historical material from North and South America from the past five centuries. The top lot is a rare 1538 letter by the conquistador Hernán Cortés to the Majordomo Diego de Guinea, instructing him to provide hospitality to a visiting bishop, valued at $50,000 to $75,000. Only one other letter by Cortés has appeared at auction since 1984. The sale features a fantastic array of early Latin Americana, including the first edition of the lavishly illustrated early nineteenth-century Brazilian travel book Malerische Reise in Brasilien by Johann Moritz Rugendas, and a signed manuscript profession of faith by Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino in 1684 ($15,000 to $25,000 and $20,000 to $30,000, respectively). One of the first Mexican novels, La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte, 1792, by Joaquín Bolaños, contains the earliest known use of skeletons in Mexican literature—these engravings …more
On Thursday, May 4, Swann Galleries will hold their biannual auction of Autographs, featuring personal snippets of the lives of important artists, musicians, politicians, scientists and writers. A highlight of the sale is a love letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, in which he asks her to visit him at Finca Vigía, Cuba, and tells her about his work on The Old Man and the Sea. On August 12, 1953, he wrote, “Please know that I love you always and I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats. But it beats always.” The letter, written on four sheets of hotel stationery, comes from Dietrich’s family; it valued at $20,000 to $30,000. From the same consignment come several other letters from the author that open “My dearest Marlene,” sent in the 1950s from around the world. In a 1950 letter from Venice, …more
In Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, Tom Pinch goes to Salisbury to meet Mr. Pecksniff’s new pupil, and with time to spare he roams the streets:
But what were even gold and silver to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came issuing forth….That whiff of Russian leather, too, and rows and rows of volumes, neatly ranged within: what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spic-and-span new works from London…. What a heart-breaking shop it was.
Mr. Meador in these pages has already taken up my theme with poignant elegance – nay, eloquence; but here I offer just a few nostalgic notes. When I was young and twenty – like A.E. Housman – there was a used/rare/books and china shop here in Kennebunkport – The Old Eagle Bookshop— under the hand of Copelin Day, whose vintage 1770’s house has alas been re-vintaged. Mr. Day had a prodigious limp and was a curmudgeon of magnitude, but each day, weather notwithstanding, …more
The Victorian period, especially in England, was a hotbed for architectural follies. In an article on Victorian follies in the July 2003 issue of The Antiquer, Adele Kenny notes several definitions, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s kindly and understated — “a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder.” Chambers goes a bit further with “a great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having begun without a reckoning of the cost” and the Oxford Companion to Gardens, in case we still don’t get it, says architectural follies are “characterized by a certain excess in terms of eccentricity, cost or conspicuous inutility.” I think the two words “conspicuous inutility” sum it up best, but say what you will a lot of us love them all the same.
Architectural follies began to appear in England during the 18th century but it wasn’t until the early industrial period of the 19th century that wealthy new owners of landed estates were able to indulge their fantasies on a grand scale. …more
Albany Book Fair Revived (submitted by Garry Austin)
Dear Friends & Colleagues:
It is my great pleasure to announce that the Albany Book Fair is back after a two year hiatus! The Albany Institute of History & Art is once again our sponsor and this year’s fair will be held November 26, 2017 at the Polish Community Center, 225 Washington Avenue Ext. Albany NY. The PCC is a well known destination and is home to a number of events, the DAR Antique Show; the Albany Stamp & Coin Show, the Train Show and a number of other well established and well attended fairs and shows. You'll find their exhibition space more akin to a hotel ballroom – carpeted, well-lit and without stairs or other impediments to hinder easy access. …more
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. To say the populist revolt came as a surprise to party regulars across the political spectrum is an obvious understatement, but the resulting emotional meltdown by people still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters (many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s), only shows that it pays to do your homework. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not. …more
Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book, opening January 20 at the Morgan Library & Museum, explores creative encounters between Symbolist authors and the artists in their circles. The movement coalesced during the second half of the nineteenth century as writers in France and Belgium sought a new form of art—one that referenced the visible world as symbols that correlate to ideas and states of mind. The Symbolists celebrated subjectivity, expressed through a nuanced language of reverie, delirium, mysticism, and ecstasy. For these writers, literature suggests meaning rather than defines it. The Symbolist movement was a revolt against naturalism, …more
The Nationalmuseum, Sweden’s largest and most distinguished art institution, is collaborating with the Morgan Library & Museum to bring more than seventy-five masterpieces from its renowned collections to New York in an extraordinary new exhibition opening February 3. The show features work by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Antoine Watteau, and François Boucher, and is the first collaboration between the two institutions in almost fifty years. Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin runs through May 14. The Nationalmuseum’s core holdings were assembled by Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1696–1770), a diplomat and one of the great art collectors of his day. The son and grandson of architects, Tessin held posts in Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, where he came into contact with the leading Parisian artists of the time and commissioned many works from them. By the time he left the city in 1742, he amassed an impressive collection of paintings and drawings.
Among the fourteen paintings in the exhibition are three commissioned by Count Tessin and exhibited at the 1740 Parisian Salon. Chief among these is Boucher’s Triumph of Venus, which is making its first journey to North America. Other paintings include Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s Dachshund Pehr with Dead Game and Rifle, and a Portrait of Count Tessin by Jacques-André-Joseph Aved, in which the collector is shown among his art, books, and medals. Six works by Jean-Siméon Chardin, notably the Morning Toilette, complete the group. The drawings in the exhibition include works by Italian masters such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Giulio Romano, and Annibale Carracci. Northern European artists are represented by Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and Anthony van Dyck, among others. The French drawings begin with Primaticcio and practitioners of the Fontainebleau school and include works by Jacques Callot and Nicholas Poussin, as well as Count Tessin’s French contemporaries, Watteau, Boucher, and Chardin. …more
The literature of the Nakba (expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting on or about May 15, 1948) is vast. There are many published personal narratives such as Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country (NY, Farrar, Straus, 2007) and Karl Sabbagh’s Palestine, A Personal History (NY, Grove Press, 2007), unsparing historical accounts such as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, OneWorld, 2006), and countless books and essays focusing on various aspects of the struggle. There is even a significant sub-genre of literature …more
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . . …more
As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers. I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership. Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why? For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings. For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil. And yet, and yet. Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in. Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting. Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith. Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting …more
Strong Showing for Edward S. Curtis Photographs at Swann
On Thursday, April 20, Swann Galleries offered Images & Objects: Photographs & Photobooks, setting records for early and modern works alike. The sale performed well overall, with 71% of works offered finding buyers.
Swann Galleries consistently offers a varied selection of rare and iconic works by Edward S. Curtis, with nearly all of the offered lots selling above or within the estimate in this sale. Highlights included a striking portrait of Red Cloud, Oglala, 1905, which sold for $32,500, a record for the work, above a high estimate of $9,000. The Scout, Apache, 1906, a dramatic orotone in the original frame depicting a Native American silhouetted on a horse, more than doubled its high estimate of $12,000 to sell for $27,500, a record for an orotone of the image; another orotone in its original frame, An Oasis in the Badlands, 1905, was purchased by a collector for $21,250, above a high estimate of $15,000.
Bastions of the art of photography performed well, with the highest price in the sale going to a group of 60 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal Animal Locomotion, 1887, at $45,000. Ansel Adams’s iconic Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, printed circa 1976, went for $42,500. Five of the six works offered by New York-based vernacular photographer Weegee (née Arthur Fellig) found buyers, led by Coney Island, 1940, at $13,750.
The cover lot for the sale was an unusual version of Toni Frissell’s breathtaking A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1957—the image was printed in reverse, with the notation “This is backwards” on the verso ($12,500).
Works from the last 50 years performed exceptionally well, with high prices going to Robert Frank’s Sick of Goodby’s, Mabou, 1978, and Zuma #9, 1978, by John Divola ($32,500 and $10,000, respectively). Both offered works by Peter Hujar far surpassed their high estimates: a trio of portraits of Robert Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sheryl Sutton, 1975, reached $27,500, above a high estimate of $12,000, while the striking 1985 Shack, Queens, more than doubled its high estimate of $6,000 to sell to a collector for $13,750. A suite of five photographs by Duane Michals, titled Narcissus, 1985, soared past its high estimate of $9,000 to sell after rapid bidding for $26,000, a record for the work.
Daile Kaplan, Director of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann Galleries, said of the sale …more
Laugh about it, shout about it When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose...
I think our presidential elections have become perpetual reality television for all sorts of reasons – for one thing it gives steady jobs to political reporters and a lot of advertising dollars for people in the television news business. We might hope it will be over and done with come November 8th, but I suspect this is the nightmare that won't go away. My pretty safe prediction is that barely six months into 2017 t.v. 'news reporters' with little else to do will be stirring up speculation about likely candidates for 2020 and start the cycle all over again. I placed 'news reporters' in single quotes because by now it must be fairly obvious that journalists have all but given up their traditional role of being disinterested professionals and have become enthusiastic and unashamed curators of the news. …more