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Balzac’s story, first published in 1832, concerns the vain quest of Master Frenhofer, teacher to the young Poussin (whom Picasso considered the greatest French artist), to complete the perfect picture – a tragic tale that was to inspire Zola’s novel L’Oeuvre and the film La Belle Noiseuse (starring Michel Piccoli and Emmanuelle Béart).

Balzac situates Frenhofer’s studio at exactly the same Left Bank address in Rue des Grands-Augustins, near the Seine, where Picasso lived from 1937 to 1955. The Vollard edition included 12 etchings by Picasso; the copy here was further embellished by Picasso throughout, with four large drawings in coloured crayon, 76 pen-and-ink drawings, and 65 other graphic doodlings in colour. Picasso offered the book to his close friend Paul Eluard.

The other sale highlight was the double-estimate €75,000 (£48,000) paid for 61 unpublished letters written between 1848 and 1857, mainly from his exile in the Channel Islands, by Victor Hugo to Alphonsine Masson, who served as his Paris-based go-between with his mistress Léonie Biard-d’Aunet.

• The first of two extant typescripts of Marcel Proust’s Sodome et Gomorrhe I, including four lengthy paste-ons and various autograph revisions and reworkings, sold to Paris dealer Jean-Claud Vrain for €200,000 (£128,000) at Christie’s on November 29. The 51ff typescript, formerly in the André Ferré archive, dated from late 1920; the book was published in May 1921. No galley proof is known to survive and the second typescript has only light revisions. Vrain carried off seven of the sale’s top ten lots, four of them involving manuscripts or typescripts of Proust’s La Prisonnière.

• Schubert’s two-page manuscript score for his song An die Musik, written in March-April 1817 (after a poem by Franz von Schober) and offered by Schubert to the Polish pianist Adalbert Sowinsky, sold above top-estimate for €158,000 (£101,300) at Piasa on December 3.

Pictured right: one of the four large drawings in coloured crayons along with other sketches with which Picasso illustrated a 1931 edition of Balzac’s Le Chef d’Oeuvre Inconnu to create a world record price for a printed French book. It sold on December 5 at Sotheby’s just short of estimate for €550,000 (£353,000).