Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2018 Issue

The World of Diaghilev from Shapero Rare Books

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The World of Diaghilev.

Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue featuring The World of Diaghilev. Serge Diaghilev was a Russian born and educated man who, in the early 20th century, became influential in various forms of artistic expression after a brief, unsuccessful attempt to become a music composer. In his university days, he formed friendships with like-minded students, developing a flair in the field of theatrical productions. Several of those friends would play crucial roles in his career later on. He could coordinate musicians, dancers, and scenery into creative new productions.

 

In 1905, Diaghilev organized an art exhibit in Russia, which the following year he took to Paris. He would stay. By 1907, he was promoting concerts, a year later, presented the Russian opera Boris Godunov to Parisians. Then came the event for which he is most closely associated, the Ballet Russes. Those were spectacular performances, featuring dancers whose names still ring today, including Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova. The Ballet Russes not only featured the greatest dancers, but Diaghilev commissioned works by composers such as Stravinsky and Debussey, and artists like Picasso and Matisse. Set and costume designers included Russian university friends Leon Bakst and Alexandre Benois. The Ballet Russes did not confine itself to Paris, but went on the road, even to America. The one place it did not venture was Russia, Diaghilev deciding not to return after the Revolution. The Ballet would be the center of his life for twenty years. He invested his time and money, plowing almost all he made back into its productions. The Ballet Russes closed in 1929, only a few weeks before Diaghilev died.

 

Now, here are a few items from The World of Diaghilev.

 

We begin with the program for the first production of Boris Godunov outside of Russia. The actual Boris Godunov was a tsar at the turn of the 17th century. His story was turned into a play by Alexander Pushkin in the early 19th century. In turn, Modest Mussorgsky expanded it into an opera later in that century. Diaghilev brought it to Paris in 1908 with a spectacular production that would set him up for the Ballet Russes performances, which would dominate the rest of his life. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov had revised Mussorgsky's opera and this is the version that was produced by Diaghilev in 1908. The program includes a portrait of Rimsky-Korsakov. It is somewhat ironic that Diaghilev was promoting Rimsky-Korsakov's music as he had been the latter's student at the university in Russia, and while earning a degree in composition, the master discouraged him from proceeding further in the field. He believed Diaghilev lacked a talent for writing music. Evidently, there were no hard feelings. Item 1. Priced at £975 (British pounds, or approximately $1,282 in U.S. dollars).

 

Speaking of Pushkin and Rimsky-Korsakov, here is another of Pushkin's creations that was later turned into an opera by the latter. Some of Diaghilev's associates were involved in its production as an opera, though I find no sign that Diaghilev was involved. However, this item skips the opera production. It is an edition of Pushkin's poem Conte de Tsar Saltan (the Tale of Tsar Saltan) published in 1921, almost a century after it was written. This edition is notable for its illustrations by Natalia Goncharova. She was another Russian ex-pat who moved to Paris after the Revolution. Along with illustrations, she designed sets for Diaghilev. Goncharova was an appropriate choice for illustrating this poem as her great-aunt was married to Pushkin. She was an avant-garde artist, whose beautiful illustrations are appropriate for this fantastic tale. Unlike Boris Godunov, this Pushkin story is not based on reality nor anything resembling it. There are ten hand-colored illustrations in this book. Item 40. £3,750 (US $4,937).

 

Next is an original signed watercolor by George Barbier from 1913. Barbier was an artist and also set designer for the Ballet Russes. This painting is taken from Diaghilev's production of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade. It features two of the Ballet's most notable dancers, Nijinsky and Ida Rubinstein. This watercolor was used as an illustration in Barbier's book Designs on the Dances of Vaslav Nijinsky. Nijinsky's costume was designed by Barbier. Displayed is a dramatic scene, with Nijinsky's character on his knees in front of Rubinstein. Item 16. £10,000 (US $13,180).

 

Item 8 is a 1930 edition of the periodical La Revue Musicale. This one features Les Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilew. It was published the year after he died. La Revue Musicale was published from 1920-1940 and was one of the most important French musical periodicals from the time between the wars. It contains testimonials and memories from numerous friends and collaborators. There are also many illustrations, such as Jean Cocteau's sketch of Diaghilev and Nijinsky, Picasso's etching of dancer Leonid Massine, and photographs of dancers, sets and scenes. In his conclusion' Editor Henry Prunieres writes, "For almost 20 years, the Ballets Russes provided us with new things in the realms of music, visual art, and choreography every year... One might say that all of musical and artistic life depended in large part on this extraordinary man." £250 (US $329).

 

Shapero Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)20 7493 0876 or rarebooks@shapero.com. Their website is www.shapero.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000

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