Rare illustrations from French classic 'Les Fables de La Fontaines' sold for €2 million

An album of drawings by French artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry for the Fables de Jean de La Fontaine is displayed at Christie's in New York in January 2023
An album of drawings by French artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry for the Fables de Jean de La Fontaine is displayed at Christie's in New York in January 2023   -   Copyright  CECILIA SANCHEZ/AFP or licensors
By Heloise Urvoy

An illustrated album of ‘Les Fables de La Fontaine’ has been auctioned at Christie’s New York salesroom for $2.20 million (approx. €2.02 million).

The mid-18th century illustrations by French artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686 – 1755) were estimated to sell between $1.5 - $2.5 million (approx. €1.4 - €2.3 million).

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Illustration by Jean-Baptiste Oudry of 'Le Renard et la Cigogne'la-fontaine-ch-thierry.net

Considered classics of French literature, ‘Les Fables de La Fontaine’ is a collection of short tales by French author Jean de La Fontaine (1621 – 1695), published between 1668 and 1694. The educational short stories were aimed at adults but then entered the educational system. Originally, the fables were dedicated to "Monseigneur" Louis, le Grand Dauphin, the six-year-old son of Louis XIV of France.

Their simple yet elaborate messages use animals to illustrate good morals, such as “Do not judge those below you, you never know what life is made of” or “Beware of what seems too good to be true, one’s intentions are not always pure”.

‘Les Fables de La Fontaine’ are still required learning for school children.