Illustrator Barney Tobey's illustrations for the classic children's book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! The Magical Car (Random House, 1968) have recently been acquired by the New-York Historical Society. Twenty-nine original preparatory pieces are currently on display alongside page proofs from the book. Tobey illustrated the emerging reader's version adapted by Al Perkins. (John Burningham illustrated the original edition published in 1964.)
Born and raised in the City That Never Sleeps, Tobey (1909-1989) illustrated dozens of children's books and cartoons for a range of outlets: 1,200 covers for The New Yorker alone, as well as covers and illustrations for Collier's Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and Variety. His artwork was also exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Grolier Club, and other New York-based institutions.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! was the only children's book written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. In it, inventor Caractacus Potts renovates an old car that soon begins acting independent of its drivers, and hilarity ensues. Roald Dahl wrote a screenplay based on the book, which was turned into a film in 1968.
"We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. David M. Tobey for donating his father's vibrant and enchanting illustrations to our collection," said N-YHS president Louise Mirrer. "Our visitors are in for a treat this summer as they follow along with the Pott family and their magical tour on their fantastical adventure."
Like summer, this show is fleeting; the donated watercolors and page proofs from the 1968 edition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! are on display through August 30. Gallery hours and more information at New-York Historical Society.
Image: Barney Tobey (1906-1989). Study for pp. 16-17 of Ian Fleming's Story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! The Magical Car, 1968. Watercolor, gouache, and black ink on Bainbridge board. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David M. Tobey, 2015.40.83.9