Girshman's Carnet De Salon leads Bonhams Russian Literature Auction

Russian Literature and Works on Paper
5 Dec 2012
New York

New York — Bonhams auction of Russian Literature and Works on Paper brought spirited bidding for many of the sale's significant lots, underscoring and celebrating the perennial interest in this area of collecting.

Most coveted was Henrietta Leon Girshman's Carnets de Salon, which raised paddles to $230,500. Society doyenne and hostess, Girshman captured the early 20th-century artistic scene in her two-volume set of autograph albums. More than 100 inscriptions, sketches, musical passages, literary quotations and autographs tell of the creative and cultural luminaries who gathered at her and her husband's salons at their "Red Gates" mansion in Moscow. Their gatherings of creative and cultural luminaries continued after the couple's exile to Paris with the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Symbolist poet Andrei Belyi's (Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev) four poems titled To Anthroposophy drew inspiration from Rudolf Steiner's theory postulating that individuals are able to access their subconscious knowledge of the spiritual. A 1918 autograph manuscript with 16-lines in four stanzas from one of the poems soared to $23,750, out-pacing its $5,000-$7,000 estimate.

Graphically bold and strongly coloured, children's magazines Ezh and Chizh were written and illustrated by Russian avant-garde artists under the editorial leadership of Nikolai Makarovich Oleinikov. Eighty-four issues of the two publications from 1928-1933 prompted bids to $12,500.

Osip Mandelshtam submitted three poems for publication in the first number Almanack produced in 1921 by the House of Arts, an organisation that supported many writers and artists in the post-Revolution era. The Almanack offered by Bonhams contains his two published poems and his third, the 16-line poem When Psyche, Who Is Life, which Mandelshtam penned on the last page and inside the lower wrapper for a friend. His signed autograph manuscript piqued interest, sending bidding to $35,000.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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