Enfilade

Books and Manuscripts Sale at Sotheby’s

Posted in Art Market by Editor on October 28, 2009

As noted on NPR’s Morning Edition (Wednesday, 28 October 2009), autograph letters of Lord Byron to his friend Francis Hodgson are up for auction tomorrow at Sotheby’s in London. They probably don’t shed lots of light art historically, though — as noted on the Sotheby’s site — they are relevant for the later history of the Grand Tour. In fact, the sale generally is useful for materials related to travel and exploration. From NPR’s website:

1L09794-19-lr-1

Sotheby's London, 29 October 2009, Lot 19. Estimate: 150,000-180,000 GBP

The British poet Lord Byron is well-known for his flamboyance. He had love affairs with women, men and the occasional relative, and one mistress called him “mad, bad and dangerous to know” — all of which makes his friendship with Francis Hodgson a surprise. Byron and Hodgson, a clergyman whom the poet met at Cambridge, maintained a spirited, lifelong correspondence through letters. Now, a collection of their letters dating from 1808 to 1821 is up for auction at Sotheby’s. Gabriel Heaton, who works in the books and manuscripts department at Sotheby’s, describes the letters as “just beautiful.” “The way that you can get a sense of Byron’s thought process from his letters is just spine-tingling,” he tells Renee Montagne. “There’s always something interesting going on in Byron’s life, and he always expresses it so wonderfully.” The letters include Byron’s witty, sometimes crude, commentaries on various European cities, including Lisbon, Portugal, where, he writes, the only vices of the people are “lice and sodomy.” The letters also reveal a more fragile side of the poet, including the sadness he felt at the collapse of a romantic relationship with a maid named Susan Vaughn. . . .

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