Ketterer Kunst Auctions Absolute Rarity

  • HAMBURG, Germany
  • /
  • May 02, 2011

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John Hill, The vegetable system. 26 volumes. 1759-86. Estimate: € 80.000.
Ketterer Kunst

The complete series of John Hill’s masterpiece ”The Vegetable System,“ one of the 18th century's greatest and most elaborate botanical publications, is of outmost rarity. Carrying an estimate of € 80,000, the book will be called up at Ketterer Kunst in the auction of Rare Books in Hamburg on 23/24 May.

Twenty-six volumes with a total of 1544 colored copper plates deliver a comprehensive description of 26,000 different plants. Even the great Carl von Linné, founding father of modern taxonomy, was awestruck, he said: ”In the face of the magnificence of Hill’s work I almost fainted...“ (Henrey). John Hill dedicated his lifework, which led him to bankruptcy despite some financially strong sponsors, to the Prince of Wales, the later George III.

The colored de-luxe edition of the splendid series of plates ”Vestigia delle terme di Tito“ by Ludovico Mirri from 1776 is another rarity. The series of 59 double-sheet copper plates with the renowned murals and ceiling paintings in the Domus Aurea in Rome was engraved by Marco Carloni after drawings by Franciszek Smuglewicz and Vincenzo Brenna. This copy, adorned with seven watercolors by Smuglewicz, will be called up with an estimate of € 50.000.

Leaving Italy, Pieter van den Berge and his ”Theatrum Hispaniae“, published in Amsterdam around 1700, take us to Spain and Portugal. The extremely rare series of 60 copper plates in a contemporary coloring shows splendid views of important cities on the Iberian Peninsula. It will enter the race with an estimate of € 30.000.

The same amount has been pinned to Wassiliy Kandinsky’s book ”Klänge“ from 1913. It is illustrated with 12 woodcuts in colors and 44 woodcuts in black and white. According to Lothar Lang, the renowned expert of Expressionism, this is, besides the books on Art Nouveau, ”the first from the days of Expressionism that was consistently composed in all its parts, from type, type size and interlinear space to print space, illustration, paper and binding“.

The section of natural science is also extraordinarily well-cast. Particularly worthwhile mentioning is the first edition of ”De crepusculis liber unus“ by Pedro Nuňez, which has been estimated at € 35.000. This
fundamental scientific treatise is the most renowned work by the Portuguese mathematician and astronomer, it contains, among others, a tractate on the shortest twilight.

Additionally, the section of old prints has quite some highlights to offer, one of them is Christóbal Acosta’s ”Tractado de las Drogas“, a very rare first edition of the influential work on non-European plants and their medical effects. The book, first published in 1578, will be called up at € 24.000.

Being the first book printed in Hamburg and at the same time the only dated Hamburg incunabula, the
“Marienlob“ by Jacobus de Voraigne will be auctioned. The estimate for the work “Laudes beate Mariae
virginis“ from 1491 is at € 20.000.

Representing the section of medical works and guaranteed to make for both excitement in the auction room as well as a good result, William Harvey’s ”De motu cordis & sanguinis“ in the complete
third and extremely rare edition from 1639. The estimate for this epochal work, which was the first delivering experimental proof for the blood circuit, is at € 20.000.

Johann Jakob Marinoni’s ”De astronomica specula domestica“ from 1746 can perhaps be obtained for € 14.000. The splendid illustrated book by the court mathematician and teacher of empress Maria Theresia is a description of his renowned private observatory and numerous instruments.

The offering will be completed by a wide range of fine incunables, for instance Bernard von Clairvaux’s
”Sermones in Duytssche“, illustrated with colored woodcuts. Next to the first Dutch edition, which was also released by Pieter von Os in Zwolle, this is the only incunabula edition of the renowned sermons released in vernacular. The estimate for this copy from the collection of Otto Schäfer is at € 30.000.
Besides Rare Books, Manuscripts, Autographs and Decorative Prints, the auction also comprises works of Maritime and Northern German Art . While the latter section includes works by Reinhard Drenkhahn,
Rudolf Hellgrewe and Rudolf Höckner, interesting works by, among others, Nicolas Camillieri, Franz Karl
Herpel, Johannes Holst and Robert Parlow will represent Maritime Art. Particular attention will go to Edward Cucuel’s oil painting “Im Hamburger Hafen ‚Von der Südsee zurück‘“. Made around 1921-22, the 80,5 x 80,5 cm (31.6 x 31.6 in) large work will be called up carrying an estimate of € 8.000.

Preview 11 - 13 May from 11 a.m. – 5 p. m.
at Hamburg Meßberg 1 16 - 20 May from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
21. May by appointment

Auction Maritime and Northern German Art: 23 May as of 09:30 a.m.
at Hamburg Meßberg 1 Rare Books Main Auction: 23/24 May as of 10:00 a.m.
Evening Auction: 23. May as of 5 p.m.
Silent Auction: 24 May

Ketterer Kunst
About Ketterer Kunst

Since it was founded in 1954, Ketterer Kunst has been firmly established in the front ranks of auction houses dealing in art and rare books, with its headquarters in Munich and a branch in Hamburg. Gallery rooms in Berlin as well as representatives in Heidelberg and Krefeld have contributed substantially to the company's success. Ketterer Kunst has further rounded off its portfolio by acquiring the prestigious Ernest Rathenau Verlag, New York/Munich. In addition, exhibitions, special theme auctions and benefit auctions for charity as well as online auctions are regular events at Ketterer Kunst.

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