Books on Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheran's
Art from Sotheran's.
Henry Sotheran Limited, or Sotheran's as they are best known, has issued a Catalogue of Books on the Fine and Decorative Arts. This is an extensive catalogue, with over 800 items offered. It includes antiquarian books, relatively recent titles, and some new ones. While targeted to the world of art, it includes many areas within the field. Works from the book arts are part of this collection, but so are many other types of art, from paintings to sculpture, ancient art, decorative art, collecting, and more. Images of most items are also provided. There is much to be found here from the world of art, these being some examples of what is available.
We will start with a catalogue of a collection of very old works of art, Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan. Bronzes, Antique Greek, Roman, Etc. Morgan was the extraordinarily wealthy industrialist and collector of the early 20th century, bronzes being just one of many things he collected (books was a notable other item). His wealth was such as to enable him to collect the best of whatever he wanted. Sir Cecil Harcourt Smith's book on the Morgan collection was published in 1913, the year Morgan died. There are numerous plates illustrating the antique bronzes in the collection. While no limitation is stated in this volume, two similar works covering other Morgan collections were printed in runs of 150 copies, which was likely true for this work as well. Item 653. Priced at £1,950 (English pounds, or roughly U.S. $3,063).
Here is an item that combines art with the greatest literature: Twenty-Two Plates Illustrative of Various Scenes in the Plays of Shakespeare. The artist was Henry William Bunbury, a skilled artist though one who made most of his money doing caricatures, for which he was well known in late 18th century England. The printseller Thomas Macklin commissioned the work of Bunbury. Macklin sold his prints individually in the 1790s, and the original art ended up in the collection of the Duchess of York (the Duke had been a patron of Bunbury). This elephant folio collection of the complete set was put together around 1811. Item 405. £2,500 (US $3,907).
Item 68 is a look at The Art-Makers of 19th Century America. Author Russell Lynes says that arts in the early 19th century were practically non-existent in America. Would-be artists had to go to Europe to learn their trade. However, as the years moved forward, American artists moved from being mere students of Europe to creators of their own, new art forms. The book was published in 1970. £33 (US $52).
Item 153 offers a look at ancient artifacts in Mexico and Central America by the 19th century French explorer Désiré Charnay. He moved to New Orleans in 1850 and became familiar with the work of American explorers to Mexico John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. He undertook one mission to the area, with the backing of the French government, in 1858, and returned in 1880 under the sponsorship of French-American cigarette tycoon Pierre Lorillard. His account was published in 1885 in Paris under the title Les Anciennes villes du Nouveau Monde (an English translation was released in 1887). Charnay is noted for his extensive use of photography in documenting his findings. £250 (US $392).
Books on Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheran's
One of Batiste Madalena's movie posters.
Item 79 is a 1918 (fourth impression) issue of Eadweard Muybridge's classic Animals in Motion. An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Muscular Actions. Muybridge conducted rapid, sequential photographs of animals in motion, notably the horse, answering the age-old question of whether a running horse at any point has all four legs off the ground (yes). What is particularly notable of Muybridge's sequential photography is that it was a first step in the process of creating animation, pictures that moved. £498 (US $782)
That provides a perfect segue to this next item: Movie Posters. The Paintings of Batiste Madalena, published in 1986. Madalena was an Italian-born artist who was hired to create movie posters by George Eastman, the developer of rolled film and founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. Eastman also operated a large theater in his firm's hometown of Rochester, New York, and Madalena was hired to create many posters on short notice to promote the then silent films being shown. He created as many as 8 a week, a total of 1,400 during his time with Eastman. Most are lost, but Madalena salvaged about 250 of them from the trash behind the theater. He remained largely unknown until his work was rediscovered in the 1980s. Item 527. £48 (US $75).
Item 103 is a complete run of the short-lived The Connoisseur and Collector's Journal. A monthly, it lasted for just seven issues in 1895-1896. A serious fire may have been the immediate cause of its demise. It focused on antique collectibles, including books and many other items. One issue covers the sale of Oscar Wilde's assets, noting, “The recent sale of the effects of the unhappily notorious Oscar Wilde, although attended by a large assemblage of buyers and onlookers, produced considerable disappointment and very meagre prices...” Wilde was involved in a bitter libel suit over claims of sodomy that eventually led to his being wiped out financially and sent to jail for two years. The auction was to help pay for the judgment against him. £198 (US $311).
Sotheran's may be reached at 020 7439 6151 or email@example.com. Their website is found at www.sotherans.co.uk.