The 48th Aristophil sale focused on great French 19th-century writers and their private letters.
Victor Hugo (1802–1885), Paysage au burg (Landscape with Burg), 1842, brown ink wash, ink and brown ink on paper, 9 x 18.7 cm/3.54 x 7.36 in.
When literature and the fine arts come together, Victor Hugo cannot be far behind. He made some of the 19th century’s most beautiful drawings, including this ghostly wash from 1842, Paysage au burg (Landscape with Burg), which fetched €46,640. While small in size (9 x 18.7 cm/ 3.54 x 7.36 in), it features a monumental medieval castle, which Hugo may have seen on a voyage down the Rhine that same year and later drew with all the imaginativeness with which he was gifted. The ink drawing’s exceptional result made up for the disappointment when two important sets of letters from Émile Zola (1840–1902) to his wife Alexandrine did not find a buyer. The 80 autograph letters François-René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) sent to Cordélia Greffulhe (1796–1847), Comtesse de Castellane, between 1824 and 1826 fetched €69,440. Shortly before, she had been the great love of the author of Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, who left Juliette Récamier for her. Their wild passion evolved into a tender friendship, as these highly affectionate letters attest. An ink manuscript of A Life by Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893), which could be dated between March and June 1878, sold for €43,400. A working document, it is the oldest known draft of the masterpiece published in 1883, and therefore essential to understanding its genesis. A series of letters from Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) to Émile Zola sold for €33,480. The lot had 32 of them, a high number considering that only 43 are known to exist. Flaubert discussed literature, friendship, the progress of Bouvard et Pécuchet and expressed his admiration for Zola’s novels: "I have just finished your atrocious & beautiful book [editor’s note: The Fortune of the Rougons]! My head is still spinning. It’s powerful! Very powerful!"