The Maurice Houdayer Library brings together the finest in illustrated books, fine bookbinding, and prints. Maurice Houdayer (1931-2020), a former international medal-winning rower who became an entrepreneur, gathered a remarkable collection of more than 1,800 precious books over almost forty years. In his residences in the west of Paris, the chosen book occupied a central place, in refined interiors. Daily companions, his beloved books also populated his offices on the Quai de Valmy. The piles of booksellers' or auction houses' catalogues, horned, annotated, cut out, testify to the variety of his purchases. His sure taste guided him towards choice copies from the most demanding collections. Discreet ex-libris reveal the names of illustrious bibliophiles: Charles Miguet, Raphaël Esmerian, Jacques Matarasso or Fred Feinsilber, who had set their sights on these precious copies.
Leafing through these works, one is fortunate enough to come across here and there an autograph letter from a great writer, who Huysmans, who Apollinaire. President of the Friends of Original Bookbinding, Maurice Houdayer had been able to establish privileged relations with the bookbinders he loved. Owner of the Privat bookshop on Boulevard Haussmann, he was keen to make it a privileged meeting place for creative bookbinding and organised several exhibitions there. Art bookbinders Monique Mathieu, Marion Blin, Philippe Fié, Nobuko Kiyomiya, Florent Rousseau, Carlos Sánchez-Álamo, Renaud Vernier, made bookbindings on his behalf. He made numerous loans for exhibitions, notably to the BnF, the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris and the Bibliotheca Wittockiana in Brussels, and wrote numerous texts or prefaces in the catalogues of these events.
Fascinated by Art Deco, which is a common thread in his collection, it is not surprising that he has an abundance of books illustrated by François Louis Schmied and George Barbier, including the famous edition of the Odyssey entirely on vellum skin. These works are, as they should be, sumptuously bound by Georges Cretté, Paul Bonet or F.-L. Schmied himself. However, he did not neglect to make room for more contemporary inspirations, showing his support for authors such as Michel Butor and, among the artists, Julius Baltazar, Els Baekelandt, Dorny... as well as Daniel Knoderer, in the field of bookbinding. This first auctions session will focus on illustrated books and creative bindings. The collection brings together in particular great books by painters (Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Miró, Chagall, Léger), illustrating the great texts of Ronsard, Apollinaire, La Fontaine. He chose some of the most inspired, those where a text, a name and a bookbinder bring the book to its best, such as Apollinaire's Le Cortège d'Orphée (1911), illustrated by Dufy and "dressed up" by Pierre Lucien Martin or Georges Hugnet's Non vouloir (1942) illustrated by Picasso in a binding by Georges Leroux. His taste for bookbinding covers the whole of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st; it is notably perceptible through an exceptional set of bookbinding models by Rose Adler. In addition to the bookbinders already mentioned, this session presents creations by Paule Ameline, Annie Boige, Anick Butré, Claude Honnelaître, Monique Mathieu, Daniel-Henri Mercher, Michel Richard. We can bet that enthusiasts will find among the books of this first auction the most qualified copies to increase their own collection.