A lot including Frédéric Delanglade tarot card designs, €20,000 (£17,390) at Christie’s.

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The group often gathered in the Bruleur de Loup café where they attempted to resume their artistic and creative activities.

One of these was a reinvention of the traditional card game as a Surrealist Jeu de Marseille. Like the Surrealists’ famous Exquisite Corpse, this was a collective enterprise with the artists contributing designs for the playing cards, each member picking a figure and drawing a card.

These designs reflected Surrealist ideas and people regarded as influential. The suits were renamed, the court card figures replaced by a genius, a siren and a magician, and featured, among others, Freud, Sade, Lautrémont, Baudelaire, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi and Lewis Carroll’s Alice.

Breton obtained a visa in March 1941 and at this point he gave all the drawings to Delanglade asking him to re-draw the whole set to give it a uniform appearance. The cards were published for the first time in 1943 in the journal VVV and issued in a boxed set in 1983.

Auction appearance

A Delanglade archive relating to this endeavour appeared in Christie’s (26/21/15% buyer’s premium) online sale of books and manuscripts in Paris from June 22 to July 5.

It comprised the designs by Delanglade from 1941 for 20 tarot cards in ink, gouache and watercolour after the original drawings by the artists Victor Brauner, André Breton, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Alfred Jarry, Wifredo Lam, Jacqueline Lamba and André Masson.

There was also a boxed maquette of an unpublished book about the Jeu de Marseille comprising 26 bifolios with a text handwritten in red and black plus original drawings by Delenglade or printed and laminated versions that featured attempts at colouring in watercolour.

Also included were two typescripts for an unpublished work by Delenglade, La Bête de Lumière of c.1958, one of them extensively annotated and corrected.

Offered with an estimate of €4000-5000, the archive finally sold at €20,000 (£17,390).

Royal binding

The top price of the auction, €65,000 (£56,520), was paid on two occasions. One was for a complete set of the first edition of the Encylopedie edited by Denis Diderot with contributions from Jean le Rond d’Alembert and others.

The set comprised 35 volumes in total, including supplementary volumes, published from 1751-80. The particular attraction of this set was that it featured the contemporary binding bearing the gilt arms of Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia.

The other highest price was for a 1669 first edition of Molière’s Le Tartuffe in a contemporary binding.

£1 = €1.15