Illustrated books hotly contested, achieve record prices in Nov. 10 auction

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books on Nov. 10 saw heavy competition for an outstanding selection of rare art and illustrated books.

Christine von der Linn, Literature Specialist, said, “Most of the top 10 lots came from private collections and had never changed hands since their original purchase. They were so pristine that turning their pages was like opening a jewel box. When I saw the excitement on viewers’ faces during the preview, I knew it was going to be an extraordinary sale.”

The top lot was Marc Chagall’s spectacular Bible, in two volumes, containing 150 etchings, hors-texte, from an edition of 275 signed sets, Paris, 1956, which brought a record price of $108,000. (All prices include 20 percent buyer’s premium.) Other Chagall highlights in the auction were Chagall Lithographe. Volume 1: 1922-1956, and Volume 2: 1957-1962, each from an edition of 100 deluxe copies signed by Chagall and editor André Sauret, with two signed lithographs, 1960 and 1963, $12,000 and $7,800 respectively.

Two Picasso items also brought record prices, Verve 29/30. Picasso and the Human Comedy: A suite of 180 Drawings by Picasso, one of 75 copies with the separate portfolio of 15 signed lithographs, New York, 1954, $66,000; and Toros y Toreros, from a deluxe edition of 125 with two signed lithographs, Paris, 1961, $26,400.

Also bringing a record was Alberto Giacometti’s Paris Sans Fin, portfolio with 150 lithographs, one of 250 on Vélin d’Arches, Paris, 1969, $31,200.

Other artist books included Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt, Wild Raspberries, with 18 plates, three of them hand-colored, New York, 1959, $7,800; Patrick Caulfield, Some poems of Jules Laforgue with images by Patrick Caulfield, with six color screenprints, English edition, one of 200 signed by Caulfield, London, 1973, $6,960; Gunther Gerzso and Octavio Paz, Palabras Grabadas / Graven Words, one of 50 signed by both artist and author, Tampa, 1989, $12,000; and Robert Indiana and Robert Creeley, The American Dream, first edition, with six screenprints signed by Indiana, Los Angeles, 1997, $9,000.

Rounding out the modern art highlights were Guillaume Apollinaire, Les Peintres Cubistes, a study on Cubism with reproductions and portraits of artists, one of 10 copies on Japan Imperial vellum, Paris, 1913, $6,240; and Eddy Batache, La Mysticité Charnelle de René Crevel, portfolio with 14 prints by different artists, including Francis Bacon, one of 45 hors commerce copies signed by Batache, Paris, 1976, $10,200.

Prized private press books included the Arion Press edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, with illustrations by Barry Moser, a special copy in a unique multi-colored leather binding by Kerstin Tini Miura, San Francisco, 1979, $11,400.

Other wonderful illustration highlights were Catulle Mendès’s Hespérus, with 13 hand-colored plates by Carlos Schwabe, Paris, 1904, $6,240; and three autograph letters signed with pen-and-ink drawings by Harrison Cady, creator of Stuart Little, New York, 1946; 1952; 1956, $6,000

Among plate books offered was Le Bon Ton d’après-guerre (Art-Modes-Frivolités), with 200 color pochoir fashion plates, two volumes, Paris, 1922, $9,000.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalog with prices realized is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

Photos courtesy Swann Galleries.


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