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One of Pauline Knip’s illustrations for Les Pigeons. A copy of this work sold for £18,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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Sold for £18,000 by Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) on June 19 was a copy of Les Pigeons, a work that began as a collaborative parts issue in 1808 but soon became the subject of dispute and deception.

The text was by Coenraad Temminck of Leiden and the colour printed and hand-finished plates were produced from original artwork by the Paris-based artist, Pauline Knip.

Relations between the two seem to have deteriorated, for in 1811 Knip decided to make the work her own.

Without consulting Temminck she had it published under a revised title and her name, with only a simple title-page line, “Le text par C.J. Temminck”, as reference to its author.

However, the copy that she sent to Temminck to approve for publication did not have that altered title, and by the time the work came out and he saw what had happened, it was too late.

Powerful connections

Knip’s powerful, royal court connections ensured that Temminck could not get justice, but he did republish his text in three octavo volumes in 1813-15.

The copy in the Scottish sale was a second edition of 1835-43, but it was accompanied by a now rather scarce second volume that added another 60 plates to the 87 of the original work.