Ionesco, Eugène, Romanian-French playwright (1912-1994). "Qu'est-ce que l'avant garde en 1958". Autograph manuscript signed.N. p., 1958.

Important text about artistic creation and the avant-garde, published in "Les Lettres françaises" of 17 April 1958 as part of the survey: "What is the avant-garde in 1958?". In Ionesco's view, art must strive to express realities that are "new and ancient, present and inopportune, living and permanent, particular, and, at the same time, universal". A label like "the avant-garde" is a mere afterthought to this goal: "To want to be part of the avant-garde before writing, not to want to be part of it, to refuse or choose an avant-garde is, for a creator, to construe things the wrong way round". For Ionesco the avant-garde is "only the current, historical expression of an inactual actuality (if I may say so), of a trans-historical reality". Therefore he is very sceptical of political art, as the work of art "is nothing if it does not transcend the temporary truths or obsessions of history". Several artists, historical and biblical figures are mentioned as examples of the "profound universalism" Ionesco is arguing for, including Buddha, Shakespeare, the Spanish mystic Juan de la Cruz, Proust, Chekhov, Brecht, and Picasso. In his own work, Ionesco tries "to say how the world appears to me, what it seems to be for me, as sincerely as possible without concern for propaganda, without intention of directing the consciences of contempraries. I try to be an objective witness in my subjectivity". The essence of his theatre is the contradictory, the absurd: "Since I write for the theatre, I am only concerned with personifying, embodying a comic and tragic sense of reality at the same time." Ionesco describes a childhood memory of a senseless act of violence which first invoked the feelings of vertigo, anguish, and transience that he tries to convey in his art: "I have no other images of the world apart from those, expressing the ephemerality and the harshness, the vanity and the anger, the nullity or hideous, useless hatred. This is how existence continued to appear to me". In closing, he aims to reconcile avant-garde and "living tradition", past and present: "One has the impression, also, that the more one is of one's time, the more one is of all times (if one breaks the crust of superficial topicality) [...] The youngest, newest works of art are recognizable and speak to all eras. Yes, King Solomon is my leader; and Job, this contemporary of Beckett".

With a stricken-out title "Avant-garde et tradition", corrections, and typograph marks. The first three pages with a tear minimally affecting the text. Some black fingerstains and stains, minor tears, and browning.

Milton, John, English poet and intellectual (1608-1674). Autograph note signed ("Jo. Milton").No place, 1634.

Autograph signature with words in his hand: "pro [or pre?] 12s 6d 1634".

Provenance: John Nichols (1745-1826), printer, author and antiquary, an intimate friend of Dr Johnson, Boswell, Horace Walpole, etc. This autograph was contained in an early 19th century album, the first page of which bears the laid-down inscription "These Autographs were collected by my youngest Daughter Anne Susanna / J Nichols / Oct 29. 1813".

John Nichols was apprenticed to William Bowyer (known as "The Learned Printer") in 1759 and eventually succeeded him in the business and became the foremost printer of his time. Nichols was editor and printer of The Gentleman's Magazine from 1788. He was an eminent antiquary and amassed a great quantity of literary and historical documents, mostly in connection with his literary works, such as his "History and Antiquities of Leicester" (1795-1815) and "Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century Consisting of Original Letters of Eminent Persons" (1817). He was not an autograph collector himself and disposed of his papers by giving many away or by donations to museums. Since his death many of his papers were acquired by the British Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, and many were dispersed by Sotheby's over a period spanning almost 100 years from 1878. However, he encouraged his youngest daughter, Anne Susanna Nichols (1788-1853), in the pursuit, and in a letter to her he wrote: "There can be no reasonable objection to your collecting the Autographs of Persons who have been eminent either for high station or Literary Talent, as the hand-writing often the index of the Mind; the pursuit is harmless and even meritorious, provided it be made as a matter of amusement and not of business which would be incompatible with the duties of a Female. I never had the leisure, or the inclination to make such a Collection for which during the long period of sixty years I had every Facility, and I now regret that I have destroyed many hundreds and given away many more, which might have furnished for you a rich Collection. I am glad, however, to be still able to add a few names of evidence [...]".

Anne Susanna and her brother, John Bowyer Nichols, went on to become two the 19th century's foremost collectors of autographs, many of their choicest items now being held in national collections. Anne Susanna's nephew John Gough Nichols was the author of "Autographs of Royal, Noble, Learned and Remarkable Personages Conspicuous in English History" (1829), which did much to popularise the collecting of autographs. This autograph of John Milton is sold together with John Nichols' laid-down inscription from the first leaf of Anne Susanna's album.

Old creases and tears with some paper losses just touching the "J" of "Jo.", but with no loss to signature or inscription.

Beethoven, Ludwig van, composer (1770-1827). "Neue Liebe, Neues Leben". Autograph musical manuscript.Vienna, 1798-1799.

First draft for the lied "Neue Liebe, neues Leben", a setting of a 1775 poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, begun in late 1798. The present sketch, jotted down without interruptions in a very cursory, almost rushed hand already contains the melody and the words with no expression markings, but includes occasional bass sections as well as parts of the piano accompaniment at the end of verses; it shows several important departures from the version printed in 1810. At the head of the page, written in a different ink and pen and comprising the first four staves, are the first eight bars of the finale of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 1 in F major (Op. 18, No. 1, composed between 1798 and 1800, published in 1801), providing the violin voice with the theme chorus of triplets.

The lied in its present version (WoO 127) was published in early 1808, nearly a decade after this first sketch, by Simrock in Bonn as the first part of the "III deutsche Lieder", apparently without the composer's consent. Beethoven subsequently revised his work (the manuscript of that revision, dated "1809", is today kept at the Beethoven Haus in Bonn) and published it the following year with Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig as part of his "Sechs Gesänge" (Op. 75, No. 2). "Il s'agit du monologue d'un amant que la rencontre d'un nouvel amour a bouleversé au point de ne plus savoir où il en est : sa tentation est alors de fuir ce qui le rend étranger à lui-même" (E. Brisson). In 1811 Beethoven presented a manuscript copy of that second version, the first leaf of which is also kept in Bonn (while most of the remainder is at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York), to Bettina Brentano on the occasion of her wedding to Achim von Arnim. Nohl has pointed out that the present first draft with its "dramatic, aria-styled phrasings" retains a somewhat "grandiose and dark quality" as compared to the reduced later version, and "if one were to interpret the urgent stride so vividly apparent in this sketch, dashed off, as it seems, without a single interruption and in a mood of deep emotional excitation, then one feels instinctively that forces of an even greater passion than such as Bettina could have aroused in Beethoven must have been at work here" (cf. p. 695).

Occasional quite insignificant brownstaining; altogether very crisp. Both leaves annotated with Beethoven's name in a near-contemporary hand. At the head of the first page is the "mysterious caption" (cf. Nohl), also by a different, early hand: "Der Schluß von seinem letzten Septuor als Motto für den Text" (apparently referring to Beethoven's Septet, Op. 20, also written in 1799; a tentative explanation is advanced by van der Zanden, p. 168).

Beethoven manuscripts written before 1800 almost never come to market; no other complete autograph manuscript of this version is known. The two leaves formerly were a single bifolium owned by baroness Anna von Gleichenstein, the sister of Beethoven's friend Therese Malfatti (remembered as a possible dedicatee of "Für Elise"), which was soon separated. Even in 1865, when Nohl edited the first leaf, its counterpart was no longer in the possession of the Gleichenstein family. The first sheet later surfaced in the archives of the music publisher Schott in Mainz and was sold at Sotheby's in 2002 (6 December, lot 14: £65,725). The second leaf was offered in 1968 by Hans Schneider of Tutzing in his catalogue 136 (lot 37, DM 17,800; then again in cat. 142, lot 266, with illustration on p. 45) and was acquired in 1969 by a private collector who had it auctioned by Venator & Hanstein in Cologne in 2011 (cat. 118, lot 861: EUR 108,000). Now that both leaves have been reunited, Hans Schneider's words, written half a century ago about only the final 62 measures, are no less true: "Through Beethoven's synthesis of his own music with a text by Goethe we are presented with a musical autograph as desirable as it is beautiful" (cat. 136, p. 37).