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Soon to be sold
He now intends to put 380 works that include some of the cream of 19th-century European literature under the hammer. They include the manuscripts of the Marquis de Sade’s last novel, The Secret History of Isabella of Bavaria, and Gustave Flaubert’s Over Strand and Field.
Although the full catalogue of the Paris sales will not be released until September, it will also include signed books exchanged between Balzac, Hugo, Stendhal and Baudelaire. English-language, German and Russian classics will also feature, with rare editions by Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Wilde, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Kleist and Goethe.
The proceeds of the auction – to be held on 8-9 November and run by Sotheby’s in Paris – will go to a foundation Bergé set up with Saint Laurent that helps support Aids research.
Christie's Classic Week: London
Valuable Books & Manuscripts: 13 July
The Christie's Books department will hold two auctions as part of Classic Week, the first will be a single owner sale, comprising 100 of the most important books from the collection of Giancarlo Beltrame. A man of great culture and an inspired businessman, Beltrame's world-renowned scientific library includes some of the most important texts on astronomy, geography, mathematics, technology and medicine. Highlights include Narratio Prima by Georg Joachim Rheticus (estimate: £1.2 – 1.8 million), the first edition of the first printed account of Copernicus's revolutionary theory that the Earth rotated around the Sun (estimate: £100,000 – 150,000), and Sidereus Nuncius by Galileo Galilei (estimate: £200,000 – 300,000) universally recognised as the foundation of modern astronomy, and the first account of astronomical discoveries made with the telescope. The sale also includes philosophical works, esoteric texts and humanist literature.
The second, our various-owner sale of Valuable Books and Manuscripts, offers highpoints of written culture from the last 1,000 years. The top lot is a complete autograph music manuscript by Johann Sebastian Bach: only ten complete manuscripts survive in private hands (estimate: £1.5 – 2.5 million). Leading the section of printed books is Besler's Hortus Eystettensis (Nuremberg, 1613) (estimate: £800,000 – £1,200,000), the most celebrated Florilegium (Flower Book) ever published. Also offered is an intriguing 16th century Swiss prayer book containing perhaps the earliest painted depiction of the Turin Shroud (£80,000 – 120,000), personal artefacts including Einstein's leather jacket (estimate: £40,000 – £60,000), and the Irish Proclamation of Independence of 1916 (estimate: £150,000 – £220,000), its political resonance particularly pronounced in its centennial year.
Brown has been a low-key visitor over the years to the Ritman Library, also known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, in the centre of Amsterdam, which houses a remarkable collection of texts on mysticism dating back to the 15th century.
In a message posted on YouTube, the author describes the library as “one of the greatest repositories on Earth” of works related to the Renaissance hermetic and magical tradition, as well as the Jewish Kabala, Sufism, and seventeenth-century Rosicrucianism.
It was “a great honour”, he said, to be able to contribute to the digitisation project, which means 4,600 of the library’s treasures that were printed prior to 1900, and some even dating to before 1800, will be digitised and available to the public online by spring 2017.
In total, the library has a collection of some 25,000 books covering “5,000 years of Western spirituality”, including rare volumes by the 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who laid the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment.
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