View of the bibliothèque au château de Dampierre. Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio.
Sotheby’s announced the sale of the Library of the Ducs de Luynes from the Château of Dampierre – one of the most important private libraries in France. The sale runs to nearly 1000 lots, charting the history of an illustrious family intimately linked to the history of France since the 17th century. Most of the books are bound in morocco or calf and embellished with the arms of the Luynes family. The majestic scope of the Library ranges from history, genealogy and literature to travel, philosophy, religion and music.
The Dampierre Library was initiated under Marie de Rohan Montbazon (1600-79), immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in his Mousquetaires trilogy as the wife of Charles d’Albert, Duc de Luynes – a favourite of Louis XIII, and one of the plotters thanked by the King for engineering the assassination of Concino Concini in 1617.
The Dukes of Luynes formed a great military family and assembled an important array of militaria books, replete with works about the Thirty Years War, the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) and the War of Austrian Succession
Towards the end of the 18th century the 6th Duc de Luynes, who was close to the philosophes and physiocrats, brought the Library into the Age of Enlightenment by acquiring a first Paris edition of Montesquieu’s De L’Esprit des Lois, along with works by Necker and Adam Smith and the first edition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discours sur l’origine et les Fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes. It was largely thanks to the 6th Duke that the Library survived the French Revolution unscathed. He was arrested in 1793 but released at the demand of the inhabitants of Dampierre, and spent the troubled years that followed unmolested in his château.