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Event Date23 April 10:00 AM EDT | Live auction 19787

Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books from the Collection of Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg

New York
Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books from the Collection of Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg

Sale Overview

Christie’s is honoured to present one of the most important collections of illuminated manuscripts and early printed books to have appeared at auction: the collection of Elaine and Alexandre P. Rosenberg. Alexandre Rosenberg, founding president of the Art Dealers Association of America, was the son of the pre-eminent French art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who represented giants of modern art such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Alexandre’s gallery in New York won acclaim with exhibitions that ranged from Renaissance bronzes to Cezanne and Picasso, American modernists and contemporaries from England and Italy. His wife Elaine was an influential Fellow of The Morgan Library and deeply involved with MoMA and the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The illuminated manuscripts offered for sale represent the culmination of 15th- and 16th-century European manuscript painting. Each stands out for its jewel-like artworks, its sumptuous illumination or its understated elegance. Several were owned by some of the most important collectors of their time – from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to Henry Yates Thompson and William Randolph Hearst. The printed books comprise the most extensive collection of incunabula offered for sale in decades: over 200 volumes printed in the 15th century, many in their original bindings, in addition to a dozen Books of Hours, mostly printed on vellum, of the early 16th century.

All proceeds from the sale will benefit designated museums for the support of their Rare Book departments. 

Prior to the sale in New York, the manuscripts from the Rosenberg Collection will be on tour and exhibited at Christie’s Paris from 18–23 March. Please contact Adrien Legendre to book an in-person appointment.

Auction times
23 Apr 10:00 AM (EDT) Lots 1-209

Our specialist’s selection

Brought to you by

Eugenio Donadoni

Eugenio Donadoni

Senior Specialist, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts | Books & Manuscripts

Eugenio Donadoni joined Christie’s in 2010, where he leads the manuscripts team with responsibility for the appraisal, researching, cataloguing and marketing of medieval and renaissance and earlier western manuscripts worldwide. Born in Florence and raised in Naples, he underwent a radical process of Anglicisation and ended up reading for an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree, and a doctorate at Oxford University. His loyalties are still divided, especially come the World Cup.

Highlights include the sale of the Rothschild Prayerbook ($13.6m, the world record at auction for an illuminated manuscript, January 2014); the Carolingian ‘Gospels of Queen Theutberga’ (£1.99m, July 2015); the only copy of the Ripley Scroll in private hands (£584,750, December 2017); the Audley End Lydgate (£392,750, July 2018); and the oldest known manuscript of Ezechiel in Latin (£212,500, July 2019). Notable collection sales have included the Arcana Collection of Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts, the stunning group of manuscripts from the collection of Yates, Thompson and Bright: a Family of Bibliophiles (16 July 2014), the collection of Maurice Burrus (25 May 2016), and, most recently, The History of Western Script: Important Antiquities and Manuscripts from the Schøyen Collection (10 July 2019). While cataloguing the Yates, Thompson and Bright sale, Eugenio identified a previously unknown text by the Renaissance French author Catherine d’Amboise: this important discovery formed the subject of his 2016 article in French Studies Bulletin. In November 2015, Eugenio dragged medieval manuscripts out of the Dark Ages and into the Digital Age by piloting the department’s first, and very successful, Online Only sale – Script and Illumination: Leaves from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.

Over the past ten years Eugenio has negotiated a number of multi-million pound private sales of medieval and renaissance manuscripts to clients in Europe, the UK and the Americas: most significantly the Clumber Park Chartier (now in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library) and the Breviary of Saint-Louis de Poissy (now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France).

Eugenio is one of Christie’s international auctioneers, and takes all of the London department’s auctions. He plays in a much-loved – if terrible – rock band, will offer unsolicited advice on anything food-related and is trilingual in English, Italian and French. He also reads Latin and Ancient Greek.

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