Illustrated Catalogue

Fine illustrated books: Highlights from 2017 catalogue

In our latest Fine Books catalogue, discover a selection of some of the most beautiful and important books ever printed; from a complete deluxe issue of Roberts’ Holy Land & Egypt, through to great natural history books including Merian’s Insects of Surinam, by way of anatomy in the form of Gautier-d’Agoty and the incomparable set of Cochin’s engravings depicting the victories of the Chinese emperor K’ien Lung.  The twentieth century is represented by Severini and the cover item, Matisse’s Jazz, is widely regarded as the finest illustrated book of the century.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with queries.

Collection of Twenty Original Drawings of Mills.
[Flanders, ca. 1770]

20 ink drawings with watercolour and ink captions in French. £45,000

Beautiful group of unusually large technical plans and drawings of four Flemish mills built in the late 18th century – all hand-coloured in very fresh condition.

Using all resources of the colour palette as well as paper overlays on the main drawing, these twenty sheets show the mechanism and structure of wind-, water- and saw mills demonstrating the technical advancement of the famous northern European mills. The large format of the drawings, the attention to detail and the quality of the production suggest that the group was made for presentation purposes, probably by an architect-engineer to advertise his skills.

GAUTIER, Jacques-Fabien
Three anatomical albums.  Publication:  Paris, 1746-1748- 1752


Science meets art in this impressive volume gathering Gautier d’Agoty’s most important early works with all plates superbly varnished to resemble oil paintings.

Jacques Fabien Gautier d’Agoty (1716–1785) was a French artist best known for his coloured mezzotints of anatomical figures. He was also the pupil of Jacob Christoph Le Blon (1667-1741) whose methods formed the foundation for modern colour printmaking.  Gautier additionally associated himself with surgeon Jacques-François-Marie Duverney and together the two produced a number of large, colourful anatomical atlases, which were noted more for their style and sometimes their shocking appearance than their usefulness to physicians. Macabre and beautiful, Anatomie Générale includes several spectacular full-length plates, made from three plates which could be fitted together.

Jazz. Publication: Tériade, Paris, 1947 

The complete book, one of 250 copies, with Matisse’s autograph text lithographed throughout, and 20 stencilled colour plates. £400,000

A masterpiece of book illustration, Jazz is the only publication of which Matisse was both author and illustrator, characterised by brilliant colours, poetic texts and joyful circus and theatre themes.

The works represent the great artist’s lifelong unflagging creativity. Limited in his mobility at the age of 74, Matisse could not paint or sculpt. Instead, he cut out forms from coloured papers that he arranged as collages.  In 1947, Matisse’s publisher Tériade issued the prints in an artist’s portfolio with hand-written texts by Matisse expressing his thoughts as he created the images. Tériade came up with the title Jazz, which Matisse liked because it suggested a connection between art and musical improvisation.

COCHIN, Charles-Nicolas
K’ien-Lung’s magnificent record of his first military campaign, 1765-1775 (also known as Emperor Qianlong Pacifying the Western Regions)  

Sixteen copper plate engravings.  £210,000  

This set of  prints, commissioned  to commemorate the greatest war of conquest in the history of the Chinese Empire, are regarded not just for their aesthetic value, nor only for their military importance, but also for a cultural exchange between East and West.

They are from the plates prepared for K’ien-Lung, Emperor of China, produced officially in an edition of 200 copies for his personal distribution.  The drawings were made in China under detailed orders from the Emperor by three Jesuit and one Augustinian missionary artists after palace paintings in the 1760s, and forwarded to Paris for reproduction under the direction of Charles-Nicolas Cochin, “Cochin fils”.

“Incomparable to anything else concerning China in the eighteenth century, rarely offered for sale.”

Find out More

For more information concerning these newly catalogued items or to request our 2017 Illustrated Books catalogue please contact Julian MacKenzie.

Leave a Reply