Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "Bonhams prides itself on a certain innovative, buccaneering spirit. Or 'zigging' when everyone else is 'zagging', in the words of Ralph Taylor, our Senior Director of Post-War Contemporary Art, whom I interviewed for this issue.
Bucking the trend is also, of course, a characteristic of many of the artists that we have written about. This season, we are offering a number of extraordinary manuscripts. From the Caren Archive, a selection of which is on offer in New York in April, there is a fascinating collection of presidential and revolutionary documents. Of particular interest is the journal of that trend-bucker personified, George Washington, who wrote about his exploits during the French and Indian War.
Washington, a forensically minded decision-maker, would have got on very well with Sherlock Holmes, and indeed his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In April's Fine Books and Manuscripts sale, there is a leaf – a "sacred relic" as the author Professor John Sutherland calls it – from the manuscript of Hound of the Baskervilles. The page was detached from the manuscript when it was first published and sent to the US as a promotional tool. Even more gripping, it contains the first appearance of the great detective after his presumed demise during the curious incident at the Reichenbach Falls.
J.J. Audubon, aka the bird man, was literally a pioneer in that he went beyond the known frontiers into the wilderness in his epic quest to record North American birdlife. According to Bill Oddie, that other famous bird-watcher who writes for us about the wonderful illustrations to be offered in Los Angeles in April, Audubon discovered 25 species, and often had to break off from bird-watching to defend himself "from gunslingers and hostile locals".
Bonhams has also been a pioneer in bringing art from different territories to auction. In October, we began a new, stand-alone sale for African Contemporary Art. The second sale in May features a sensational statue, Anyanwu, by the celebrated Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu, an edition of which is at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. On page 34, Chika Okeke-Agulu, the noted curator, writes about an artist who was a Modernist, yet equally proud of his heritage. Bit like Bonhams, really.
Enjoy the issue."