A recent auction of an archive of unpublished manuscripts, books and letters by French novelist Marcel Proust fetched €750,000 (£657,895) at Sotheby’s in Paris.
The 70-lot archive, which included later additions by the writer’s niece Suzy Mante-Proust, had come direct from the family and made up a separate evening session of Sotheby’s latest Books and Manuscripts sale in Paris. The highest priced lot in the archive was an early draft (catalogued as probably c.1907-8) of a passage from “Du Cote de chez Swann” (Swann’s Way), the first part of his mammoth novel “A la recherche du temps perdu,” describing the hero’s walk along the Vivonne. One of the most fought-over lots was a pencil portrait of Marcel Proust on his deathbed by Jean-Bernard Eschemann, which finally fetched €45,000.
The auction also saw a number of lots devoted to correspondence between the author and the composer Reynaldo Hahn, described by the auctioneers as Proust’s great love and lifelong friend. The letters are known for the light they throw on Hahn’s personality — in particular a rare almost entirely unpublished ensemble of seven letters from Hahn to Proust from their youth realised €15,500 (£13,595).
The Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts sale in Paris brought together works from very different fields. “Les relations des Jesuites au Canada au XVIIe siecle” (a very rare collection of 17 letters) was sold at €125,000 (lot 6). “Humboldt,” another piece of Americana with its extraordinary journey through South America, largely exceeded its high estimate when it garnered €25,000.
Marc Chagall's most dazzling books, illustrated with 42 vibrantly fresh original lithographs: “Daphnis & Chloe, Teriade,” 1961 garnered the highest price of €140,000.
“Three love letters from Guillaume Apollinaire to Lou, two containing autograph poems and one where he illustrates himself with her, inspired some splendid bidding battles, selling for €20,000, €35,000 and €25,000 respectively,” says the auction house.
Founder: Louise Blouin