Apollinaire (Guillaume)

Lot 63
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Apollinaire (Guillaume)
Alcools. Poems. 1898-1913. Mercure de France, Paris, 1913. Cubist frontispiece portrait of the author by Picasso. First edition (18 x 11.4 cm). One of the few literarily emblematic copies of the twentieth century: Apollinaire's major poetic collection, with a mailing to André Breton, reflecting the filiation between the now-recognized avant-garde poet and the young future leader of Surrealism. Vintage binding: Orange chagrin spine, marbled paper, cover and spine preserved, André Breton bookplate by Salvador Dali. "To André Breton in memory of his visit the day after my trepanation on May 10, 1916 Guillaume Apollinaire August 5, 1917" Seven autograph typographical corrections by Apollinaire, in violet ink, contemporary with the mailing, appear on pages 65, 71, 77, 86, 92, 110 and 189. This copy is one of three books by Apollinaire to include a mailing to André Breton (with Les Mamelles de Tirésias and Calligrammes: Jean-Baptiste de Proyart et Jean-Michel Goutier, Trésors de la Bibliothèque d'André Breton, Galerie 1900-2000, Paris, 2016, no. 2, pages 10-19). André Breton (1896-1966), then aged 21, had begun a relationship with Guillaume Apollinaire two years before his death. Although he subsequently distanced himself somewhat from Apollinaire, Breton's admiration for the elder initiator of the "new spirit", around whom the small group that was to found the Surrealist movement, was formed, was unwavering. Nearly a hundred copies of Alcools have been identified, each with a letter from Apollinaire. André Breton's copy appears to be the most important in literary terms, given the context of filiation between the accomplished poet and the young medical student who would found Surrealism a few years later. Apart from Breton, the only future Surrealist to whom Apollinaire dedicated a copy was Philippe Soupault. In his letter, Apollinaire refers to his trepanation on March 17, 1916, after receiving shrapnel to the head while reading Le Mercure de France in the trenches. As the dedication indicates, Breton - who knew him only by letter - came to visit him the day after the operation, performed at the Villa Molière by Dr. Baudet. Decades later, Breton would declare: "From then on, I was to see him almost every day until he died. Adrienne Monnier recalled the André Breton of the time: "Apollinaire sitting in front of me, chatting familiarly, and Breton standing, leaning against the wall, his gaze fixed and panic-stricken, seeing not the man who was present, but the Invisible, the black god, whose order had to be received". Provenance: André Breton; Galerie 1900-2000, Paris (Jean-Baptiste de Proyart and Jean-Michel Goutier, Trésors de la Bibliothèque d'André Breton, Galerie 1900-2000, Paris, 2016, no. 1, pages 8-9). The copy did not appear in the André Breton sale at 42 rue Fontaine in 2003, remaining among the few works that Breton's family had kept. Exhibition: André Breton, la Beauté convulsive, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1991, page 498.
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