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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Vintage Travel Posters

It is the last few days of Vintage Travel Posters, so do not miss the opportunity to visit exotic holiday destinations from the comfort of an antique bookshop on Piccadilly.

My Neighbour Totoro


Contact the Prints Department for further details.

December Newsletter


We have some exciting new arrivals this month, such as this beautiful item...

A few topical pieces...

In accordance with the merry month...

If you need gift inspiration...

Monday, 21 September 2015

London Fashion Week SS16

Click here to view the latest History of Dress and Fashion digital catalogue.

With the close of fashion week, lest we forget the formidable wealth of information that can be found in books on fashion's past. Though we frequently find ourselves searching for the new and upcoming trends, homage must be paid the beaux idéal of previous seasons. Sotheran's has curated a catalogue of books related to dress history and fashion. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Animals in the Zoo, Henry Moore.

For a sensitive portrayal of the great mammals we love at the Zoo, look no further than the work of the great twentieth-century sculptor Henry Moore. The animals convey the animation and character we know and love, when on display I could swear I have seen the Jaguar blink!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Upcoming Exhibition: Journey of Manga

Journey of Manga

Exhibition Dates: 2nd October - 23rd October

Private View: 1st October 6-8pm

Entry: Free Admission 

Opening Times: Monday - Friday 9.30 – 6pm, Saturday 10 – 4pm.

The opening of Japan following the military expedition of the USA's Commodore Perry in 1853, gave rise to an international market dealing in the country’s wealth of material and visual culture. In the proceeding years trade links between Japan, Europe and America were firmly established with Japanese wares being exhibited widely at a number of international fairs, a phenomenon that peaked in the European and American ‘Japonisme’ craze of the 1870s. The demand for things Japanese is one that, even today, does not seem to have diminished.

In the present selling exhibition, a comprehensive selection of woodblock prints from the last two hundred years will be displayed alongside contemporary ‘manga’ works. The term manga is largely used to refer to contemporary works of animation from production studios, however, it has a long and varied history in the visual culture of Japan, and some may argue it has roots in antiquity.

In early 19th Century Japan, manga fed the aspiration to collect and own. Conspicuous consumption in urban life was a growing trend with an increasing number of merchants in the cities. Manga, or 'comics' in translation, were originally in book format, or sequential multi-colour woodblock prints collected and bound; manga were picture books for adults based on various themes or subjects, both fiction and non-fiction, secular and sacred. The market for collecting manga in late 19th Century Europe and America was not dissimilar, though by this period, prints made in Japan were understood to be of value to western audiences.
The text located in and around the imagery, as seen in Yoshitora Utagawa’s  depiction of Samurai Oribe Yasubei Minamoto no Takeyasu, was integral to its interpretation. In most cases text was weaved into the visual concept. Therefore, the knowledge and education needed to determine meaning demanded an elite audience, unlike the popularized contemporary manga of today. The exhibition commences with a vibrant work from c.1815 by Tokokuni III (1786-1864), depicting the hero Tsuna fighting the apparition of the Ibaraki demon. The character is engaged in battle holding a warrior posture. His multifaceted dress describes a weight while the space around him creates a fluidity of motion, while the character seems suspended in animation, caught in a net of bold black line. It is easy to see how these prints were known as ukiyo-e, or ‘pictures of a floating world’.
A work by one of the of most well-known masters of the genre, from a later period, Toyonobu Utagawa (active 1859-1886), is a depiction of the  warrior Nitta Yoshisada, head of the Nitta Clan,  engaged in a battle running amidst the fury of archery fire. It is a scene from the Taiheiki, a fourteenth-century epic; a primary source for the revisualising of the epic battles of earlier centuries; emphasizing the antiquity of manga and its sources. The dyptych or polyptych composition is highly typical in manga, with the narrative cycle being told across several prints. However, this does not mean that the prints fair badly when viewed in isolation of other parts of the narrative. The individual prints are dynamic and ensure the viewer is critically engaged yet anticipatory of further scenes; the ideal premise for the formation of collections.

The development of animé is a logical conclusion of the epic narratives of earlier manga, and the production studios pursue cinematic qualities present in the genre. The work of writer and director, Hayao Miyazaki, in his My Neighbour Totoro, demonstrates the twentieth-century extension of manga’s visual language in Japanese culture. The fracture of narrative scenes, as a product of Studio Ghibli’s storyboard format, are especially useful in understanding the intention of prints from earlier periods, whereby separate parts cumulatively relate to the whole.

Press Contact: Roisin O’Connor


The longest established antiquarian booksellers in the world (York 1761)

2-5 Sackville Street | Piccadilly | London | W1S 3DP

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7439 6151 | Fax: +44(0) 20 7434 2019

Friday, 3 July 2015

Summer Sports

There really is an extraordinary amount of exciting sport going on at the moment - the Brits are going well at Wimbledon, the Ashes are about to start, the Open is coming up at St. Andrews and Glorious Goodwood is at the end of the month. To celebrate this feast of athletic feats (and golf) performed in the blazing British sun, we've put together a catalogue of books and prints about our nation's favourite summer sports: cricket, golf, horse riding and tennis.

Items range from the entry on real tennis from Diderot's great Encyclopédie (pictured) to portraits of Don Bradman, from copies of Wisden to a book on horsemanship by the Sun King's own riding master, from P.G. Wodehouse to Ian Woosnam. And for those of you with really rarified tastes, there's even a book on croquet.

This catalogue will only be available online, so please keep an eye on our website or contact us at for more details.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Shelf Life 7

This week we visit the shelf known as ST3 in the Prints department, the location of our large format prints and posters. The shelf is full to the brim of lithographic, largely linen backed content from which we bring to you the delightful posters, seen below, designed by the artist Raymond Peynet. The illustration series that made Peynet's fame were known simply as Les Amoureux or The Lovers. The characters were born out of a chance encounter Peynet had in the park, observing a violinist unknowingly serenading a beautiful lady spectator. His recognisable style and undeniable talent led to a stream of commissions, in the most unusual parts of the commercial advertising sector.

Established in 1950, the Fondation Louis Lépine (FLL), is a charitable organisation that aims to support the working lives of policemen in France. It still is an operational organisation or union, and as part of its remit aids the social engagement of the police force in Paris. Peynet was commissioned to create posters for the annual toy sale at the Préfecture de Police Paris.  It is quite odd, perhaps, to see such a jovial agent of social control, baton in hand, advertising a community outreach event, in the form of a Christmas toy sale, in a police station. However, the quaint and romantic imagery of Peynet's creation captures the imagination, and we can overcome the unusual nature of this event and its incongruous location. The little mechanical police officer walking on the moon, a tribute to the USA Luna landing of the previous year, could be an attempt to break down the barrier between police and the people; a strident attempt to connect police and popular culture achieved by the innocence and simplicity of Peynet's rendering of the uniformed character. Evidence of the accolade of Peynet and his posters is the small latex model, commissioned by President Coty, of the police officer featured in the posters. It was presented to HM The Queen on her royal visit to France in 1957 and is now held in the Royal Collections. 

Despite the political events in Paris of the late 1960's, with student protests on the streets of Paris and political demonstrations frequently resulting in violent clashes with the police, these posters continued to be produced. It might be concluded that these posters are an attempt to establish the friendly face of the force in the context of such fierce opposition. They are a graphically stylish manifestation of an important aspect of social history and the role of the workers' union in France. 

You can view the catalogue here for the full list of Peynet posters currently in stock, or for more information call us in the Prints department 020 7434 2019 and ask to speak to Roisin or Richard.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Shelf Life 6

This version of Shelf Life is filmed on a slightly lower budget. In the true spirit of the enterprise, and to avoid any responsibility for a tasteful choice, I've selected a random shelf to talk about, and the offerings on display are more modest than readers of previous weeks will be accustomed to.
The unlucky shelf that fell under inspection on this occasion was the small glass cabinet referred to as the poetry cabinet. Now as far as I’m aware, the Poetry cabinet doesn't contain a great deal more poetry than many of the other cases in the shop, but rather has gone from being a ‘cabinet in which poetry is stored’ to a cabinet with the moniker Poetry. As a result, the shelf is a mix of items you would not necessarily expect to find languishing next to each other.

Appropriately enough, the best example of this is the copy of Eragon glaring at us from the very end of the shelf. For the many of us who I imagine are unfamiliar with the premise, it involves that sassy looking dragon on the cover rampaging over half a continent with a beleaguered human in tow, learning all sorts of vaguely heart-warming life lessons on the way. The main recommendation for this particular copy of highly derivative fantasy is the fact it has been signed by the author – this is true for much of our modern fiction, some of which contains original ideas. This is not to say Eragon is direct plagiarism, so much as it very carefully avoids it. Nevertheless, any young reader who likes the field but is looking for a new series would enjoy the copy, as Paolini’s style is easily accessible and the presentation of the copies has always been marvellous. Like many of our modern firsts, Eragon is perfect for a gift, particularly for a child or younger sibling.

If you move a little deeper into the woods, we find a sinister work of historical fiction – Captive Royal Children. Despite the jaunty cover and the whimsical illustrations, this book is a reconstruction of the imprisonment and implied executions of many historical/hysterical nobles, including Henry V, Lady Jane Grey and the murdered Princes in the Tower. Most notable is that G I Whitham chooses to tell the story through the eyes of the children present at the time of these events, which provides an unusual and compelling viewpoint that is unusual for the subject matter. Thankfully, it reads in the same drifting manner as an Arthurian legend, which helps soften the blow when the characters drop faster than in an episode of Game of Thrones.  Worth considering for the casual historian, or those with morbid fascinations.

Continuing on our theme of books Better Left Alone, we encounter The Guardsman and Cupid’s Daughter. Now, no Google search will return a synopsis of this selection of poetry to you. I would know, I tried. So I read a few verses, and I don’t understand it any better. To quote the last passage of the book – “I’d like to make the great big world a lump of marzipan and suck it”, said Jenny. “Me too”, said Anne. I’m aware that you can make anything look strange out of context, so I imagine the best way to understand exactly what Jenny meant by this is to read the rest of the poem,..but I daren’t.

If none of the above titillate your fancy, you might be best served by our tailored catalogues. Contact any of the staff here at Henry Sotheran Ltd with your interests, and we can put together a list of available books for you. You can reach us on, or on our office number 02074396151.

Eric Gill Exhibition Launch Night!

Don't forget to join us this evening for the launch of our latest exhibition, Eric Gill Prints and Books.

To indulge in the à la mode tastes for monochromatic, this exhibition is a feast of woodcuts on various paper types, alongside a selection of books from the Golden Cockerel Press.

RSVP to attend for the opening night preview to

The exhibition will close on Friday 10th April '15.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Shelf Life 5

Among the architecture department’s shelves this week we are highlighting three works that were instrumental in informing the development of architectural taste in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth-century. All three works resulted from expeditions undertaken by their authors to classical sites in Europe and the Near East. 

See the catalogue of items.

Robert Adam's volume on the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro (now Split), had its genesis in the mid 1750s, with the architect's desire to publish a revised and corrected edition, with fresh plates, of Antoine Desgodetz's Edifices Antiques de Rome first published in France in 1682. At the same time, in the company of the artist and antiquary, Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the etcher Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Adam set about recording the remains of Hadrian's villa at Tivoli and the Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian, again with the aim of going into print. None of these projects came to fruition, as by October, 1756 Adam had decided to visit Spalatro to make accurate drawings of the palace complex with a view to forming the basis of a publication on the subject. Along with Clérisseau and two other draughtsmen Adam spent five weeks there studying the ruins of the palace between July and the end of August 1757. Returning to London, Adam left Clérisseau in Venice where the latter embarked upon the task of supervising a team of engravers in turning a proportion of the drawings into plates. This was to be fraught with problems as Clérisseau's eye for the picturesque and the sublime tended to create discrepancies in the details displayed in the perspective views and those of the sections and as such was at odds with Adam's intention of putting before the public an accurate record of what remained of the palace. In addition it transpired that Clérisseau had taken every opportunity to display his drawings to visiting English cognoscenti in Venice, leaving most in no doubt that the majority of the views had been made by himself under Adam's supervision. Consequently Adam felt it necessary to minimise Clérisseau's part in the venture, at one point even considering printing Robert Adam delint at the foot of every plate. In the event Adam contented himself by leaving all signatures off the plates except for those of the engravers, and giving Clérisseau only the briefest of mentions in the preface.

The text was no less an issue, as Adam, while feeling unequal to the task nevertheless was keen to give the appearance of it being from his own hand. Having cast around for an author Adam initially engaged his brother-in-law John Drysdale, whose indolence was such that Adam eventually turned to his cousin, William Robertson, the historian. This proved fortuitous because as Fleming notes, 'Robertson's collaboration is of the greatest importance, for it extended beyond the mere wording of the Preface. His lucidity, his scholarly detachment and, above all, his passion for scrupulous accuracy and constant recourse to documentation were to influence Robert profoundly.' Fleming, John. The Journey to Spalatro. pp. 103-107. Architectural Review Volume 123. Number 733. February 1958.

Seven years prior to Adam’s journey to Spalatro, Robert Wood, the antiquarian, had ventured much further east into the Levant. The Ruins of Balbec was intended as a sequel to the author’s critically acclaimed Ruins of Palmyra first published in 1753. Both works were the fruit of a journey undertaken by Wood in the company of James Dawkins, John Bouverie and the architectural draughtsman, G.B. Borra. Embarking at Naples in the spring of 1750 the party sailed to Anatolia before travelling through Turkey to Samos where Bouverie died of pleurisy. From here the reduced party continued through Asia Minor and Egypt, visiting Palmyra and Balbec, before returning to London late in 1751.

While Palmyra as a whole may have been more of a revelation to European eyes than Balbec, whose buildings were already reasonably well-known from a number of engraved works, it was the latter which proved the more influential. Details of many of the site's buildings were imitated in British buildings of the latter half of the eighteenth-century. The ‘Circular Temple’ to the south east of the complex formed the basis of designs by William Chambers for the Temple of the Sun at Kew and subsequently by Henry Flitcroft in his similarly named temple at Stourhead.

The journey from expedition to publication was a relatively short one for the first two titles. The same was certainly not the case for the third work: The first volume of James Stuart and Nicholas Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens, appeared in 1763, volumes II and III followed in 1790 and 1794, with the fourth volume appearing in 1816 (a Supplement forming a fifth volume was issued in 1830). The principal author was the architect, archaeologist, and painter 'James Athenian Stuart (1713-88). After travelling to Rome in 1742, Stuart accompanied Nicholas Revett on an excavation in Naples. In 1751 they travelled to Athens on an expedition organized and funded by the Society of Dilettanti of London. In Athens they made accurate measurements and drawings of the ancient Greek ruins there, particularly those of the Acropolis, before moving on to other classical sites in Asia Minor.

The work soon became a source book on ancient Greek architecture and acted as an important influence in the 'Greek revival' of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries' (British Museum - Highlights, online). Again, specific details of classical buildings that had been drawn and measured on the expedition resurface in the work of both Stuart and Nicholas Revett. Two well-known examples are Revett’s design commisioned by Henry Dawkins, the brother of James, for the portico of Standlynch (now Trafalgar House), near Salisbury, based on that of the Temple of Apollo on Delos (Antiquities of Athens. Vol III. Chap.  Pls. I-VI) and his Ionic portico for the west front of West Wycombe, based on the Temple of Bacchus at Teos (Society of Dilettanti: Antiquities of Ionia. London,1769. Volume I. Pl. IV).

A full account of both the expedition to Greece by the authors in the company of Robert Wood and James Dawkins, and the subsequent gestation of the volumes prior to publication is provided by Eileen Harris and Nicholas Savage in British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785. Cambridge, 1990. and in the relevant entries in the catalogue of Early Printed Books in the British Architectural Library.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Eric Gill, An exhibition of works on paper.

This Spring Sotheran’s will be holding an exhibition of works on paper by Eric Gill, surely one of the twentieth-century’s most influential wood-engravers, typographers and sculptors. The woodcuts printed on wove and delicate Japanese paper will be accompanied by a small selection of books containing examples of his art such as the Golden Cockerel Press’s edition of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Gill’s genius as sculptor led him to be commissioned to execute a number of significant large scale works, including those for Broadcasting House, Langham Place, London and three stone bas-reliefs for the League of Nations building in Geneva. However our exhibition will focus on the small scale with woodcuts covering a wide range of secular and religious subjects.

Private View:

Thursday 19th March 2015

6.00 – 8.00pm

Exhibition Dates:
Friday 20th March - Friday 10th April 2015

Henry Sotheran Print Gallery
2 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, London, W1S 3DP

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday 9.30 – 18.00
Saturday 10.00 – 16.00

Admission: Free

Thursday, 29 January 2015

50th Anniversary of Ian Fleming's children's novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang sees launch of special facsimile edition.

It may surprise you that the author best known as the creator of James Bond, also wrote the much loved children's book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Just like Ian Fleming's novels aimed at grown ups, this adventure story features heroes, villains and gadgets but here the main protagonist is a magical car.Ian Fleming wrote the novel for his son Caspar but did not live to see it published before he died in August 1964. Illustrated by award-winning children's book illustrator John Burningham, it was originally issued in three volumes by Jonathan Cape and has been fascinating young boys and girls for fifty years.

In January 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the final volume, Queen Anne Press will be launching a facsimile of the original Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. The standard edition of three volumes in a slipcase will be available for £125, while 50 special editions, bound in cloth with gold blocking and accompanied by a portfolio containing two prints signed and numbered by John Burningham, will cost £600 each. The famous story starts with Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang being bought by Commander Caractacus Pott. It quickly turns into a car full of surprises. When Pott drives his family to the beach and gets stuck in a traffic jam, Chitty instructs its owner to pull a switch and they take to the air. Thus begins an adventure in which it transpires that Chitty can not only fly but swim and, if necessary, will do anything to save the Potts from harm. Their travels take them to France where, with Chitty’s help, they smash a ring of gangsters who were unlucky enough to kidnap the two Pott children and then go on to save a famous chocolate shop in Paris from being robbed.

If you thought that the car was simply a figment of Fleming's imagination, you may be interested to hear that he based it on an aero-engined racing car built by Count Louis Zborowski in the early 1920s on his estate near Canterbury. Using machinery from redundant Zeppelins the machine was painted grey, shaped like a torpedo, and scored several record-breaking triumphs before crashing disastrously in 1922. In 1961 Fleming suffered a heart attack and while recuperating in hospital he used the time to write up the stories he used to tell his son Caspar. He sent the manuscripts to his publisher and the search for an illustrator began. The process took two years. When Fleming's favourite cartoonist ‘Trog’ (Wally Faulkes) was unable to take it on the publishers commissioned John Burningham for the project. Burningham had just been awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal (1963) for his book Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers.

Burningham created some of his most memorable children's illustrations in this novel and says: “I was still in the early stages of my career as an illustrator when I was asked to work on this project, while Fleming had certainly reached fame with the Bond novels by then. It was slightly daunting to work with someone who clearly had a good idea how he
wanted the illustrations to look. Sadly, due to his ill-health, we only met once when I showed him my drawings. He was happy with my work, although he asked me to change the logo on a petrol pump and add the sign of a tobacconist in Paris, which I am not entirely sure, I ever added.” Fleming died on the 12th August 1964, his son Caspar's twelfth birthday. The first Chitty was published in October 1964 by Jonathan Cape, the second in November and the final volume in January 1965. In 1968 it was adapted as a film using a script written by his friend Roald Dahl.

Chitty is undoubtedly the most famous and best loved car in English-language fiction. Thanks to the timelessness of both Fleming's imaginative writing and Burningham's witty illustrations their collaboration has lost none of its appeal."Never say 'no' to adventures. Always say 'yes', otherwise you'll lead a very dull life." Thus said Commander Pott, using words that mirrored Fleming’s own approach to life. For more information and images or to interview John Burningham or the publishers, Kate Grimond and Fergus Fleming, please contact Silke Lohmann: or 07932 618754. Please mention the Queen Anne Press website:

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Shelf Life 4

Please see link below to view a catalogue of the works contained in this weeks edition:

The Fourth shelf life is in fact about a draw located below stairs in the centre of the Print Department. It contains a selection of etchings by the Italian artist Federica Galli (Soresina, 1932 – Milan, February 6th 2009).

Although we have a selection of Galli’s prints on display in one of our stands and also on the walls, unfortunately not all of them can see the light of day and some remain tucked away in this draw which has the rather unglamorous title of “CHF6.” This disguises the wonderful etchings, which await discovery inside. There is a link at the top of the article, which will allow you to view the contents of this draw in its entirety.

One of the highlights from Federica Galli’s Venice etchings found within, is titled “Dalle Fondamenta della Tana,” (#11 in our online catalogue) which is an original etching signed by the artist, artist proof, 1983-1984. 492 x 297 mm. This print shows a traditional Venice backstreet with clothes hanging up to dry between houses. Galli has the ability to take you to a remote area of Venice and still make it seem very familiar. The majority of the etchings, which Galli produced from Venice, are not of the most famous sites, but show how Venetians themselves view the city. Galli spent two years producing her Venice series, spending most weekends in the city making her etchings.

Another fabulous etching from the draw, taking the proud position of first listing in the Sotheran’s exhibition catalogue, is titled “Argine” (#1 in our online catalogue). This again is an original etching signed by the artist, edition 70/70, 1971. 636 x 346 mm. Galli was said to love trees for all of her life, etching them with great skill of observation, and with an understanding of the species distinctions. The long narrow path is lined by towering skeletal trees; veering in all directions whilst also being observed in the reflection of the small stream running the same course of the path. Galli loved to be outdoors and was very at one with nature, the people who knew her said that she thought of the trees as her friends. Galli’s trees appear entwined in conversation, and thus, the image is no longer a leafless wintry scene, rather a conversation amongst old friends.  

We have been fortunate enough to hold two exhibitions at Sotherans showcasing Federica Galli’s work, both on Trees (4th - 24th June 2013) as well as her Venice Series (21st June – 7th July 2012). The Venice Series was Galli’s first commercial exhibition in the U.K. and was considered a great success. Galli was relatively unknown in Britain at the time of the exhibition although the British Museum does have some of her work in their collection. She has been widely exhibited all over the world and we are very grateful to Fondazione Federica Galli and in particular Lorenza Salamon and Giovanni Gasparini for continuing to allow us to represent her in the U.K.