Auctions | January 6, 2016

Beloved Characters, Classics & Playful Pulp at Swann Galleries


New York—On Thursday, January 28, Swann Galleries will offer its fourth annual auction of Illustration Art, featuring fine examples of advertising art, book and magazine illustrations, fashion and costume drawings, cartoons and comics.

Debuting on the market is Howard Chandler Christy's large and masterly drawing for the poster I Am an American!, 1941, created for the 1941 Mayor's Committee Celebration of "I Am an American Day" in Central Park for natural-born and naturalized citizens. The maquette shows his favorite model, Elise Ford, as the beautiful Columbia, powerfully striding forward as a determined force for liberty and democracy. The charcoal and pastel drawing is estimated at $25,000 to $35,000.

Another debut is a 1962 watercolor by Charles Addams for the cover of Show Magazine, humorously depicting the power play of the network television industry in the early 1960s ($6,000 to $9,000). Also included is Addams watercolor for E=MC2published in the October 8, 1960 issue of The New Yorker ($3,000 to $4,000).  Work by other beloved cartoonists includes a 1966 ink on paper drawing of Snoopy by Charles Schulz ($2,000 to $3,000), and several recognizable Disney characters including a pencil and crayon cartoon still of Mickey Mouse from the 1937 cartoon “The Worm Turns” ($1,000 to $1,500), a set of drawings of Baloo the bear by Frank Thomas and Dale Oliver ($1,500 to $2,500) and Wolfgang Reitherman’s Captain Hook circa 1953 ($800 to $1,200).


Works by well-known illustrators of picture books include recognizable characters like Arthur Rackham's famous Scrooge and the Ghost of Marley from Dickens's A Christmas Carol, 1915 ($40,000 to $60,000); a large gouache and watercolor of Rip Van Winkle by Everett Shinn from 1939 ($10,000 to $15,000); and Michael Foreman's watercolor Into the Sunset for the 2001 edition of The Wind in the Willows ($2,500 to $3,500). A pen and ink illustration of Mole Stretched on the Bank by Ernest Howard Shepard from the 1931 edition of The Wind in the Willows will also be on offer ($10,000 to $15,000). A watercolor nature study for Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter ($30,000 to $40,000), as well as a set of pencil with pen and ink sketches done as a study of rabbits and hands ($5,000 to $7,500) show the Potter’s eye for the woodland creatures that would become her iconic characters. Richard Wiley’s color boards for the first African-American family in the Dick and Jane series are included as well ($1,500 to $2,500 each). 

Our ever-popular and growing The New Yorker section features cover art highlighted by amusing and colorful images by Bud Handelsman, Arthur Getz, and William Steig, including Getz’s Cotton Candy at the Circus, casein tempera, from the April 6, 1957 cover ($2,000 to $3,000). Cartoons by recognizable greats from the magazine include works by George Price, Chon Day and Whitney Darrow, Jr. Other highlights include magazine covers by Maginel Wright Enright Barney and Freeman Elliot, and the return of our pet genre "Man-cave-iana," with illustrations from ads, pulp fiction covers and more by Lou Marchetti, Charles Copeland, Frederick Blakeslee and George Petty.

The auction will be held Thursday January 28, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening Saturday, January 23 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, January 25 through Wednesday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, January 28 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at 212-254-4710, extension 20, or via e-mail at; or John D. Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61, or via email at

First image: Lot 148: Howard Chandler Christy, I Am an American!, charcoal and pastel on board, 1941. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.

Second image: Lot 108: Beatrix Potter, Squirrel Nutkin, watercolor with pencil. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.