Auctions | April 6, 2020

Elite Pulp Artists Celebrated in Heritage Illustration Art Auction

Virgil Finlay's The Thief of Forthe, Weird Tales magazine cover, July 1937 (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Dallas, TX – An extraordinary selection of artwork used on pulp magazine covers, from artists like Virgil Finlay, Margaret Brundage, Hugh Joseph Ward and Norman Saunders, are among the top attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art Auction April 24 in Dallas, Texas.

The 414-lot sale also will include artwork by legendary pin-up artists, including Patrick Nagel, Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas, as well as an impressive array from the Golden Age of Illustration Art.

“Pulp art is enormously popular right now,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite said. “This sale offers a very strong selection from some of the most popular and important Pulp artists, some classic images from the genre. The range of images offers elite collections for Pulp collectors of all levels.”

The auction includes three Weird Tales Magazine covers: Virgil Finlay The Thief of Forthe, Weird Tales magazine cover, July 1937 (estimate: $20,000-30,000), Lee Brown Coye, The Vampire, Weird Tales magazine cover, July 1947 (estimate: $8,000-12,000) and Margaret Brundage The Slithering Shadow, Weird Tales pulp magazine cover, September 1933 (estimate: $20,000-25,000). Finlay was central to the development of science fiction illustration – in The Thief of Forthe his inventive compositions and dramatic renderings perfectly display the artist’s mastery. Coye’s The Vampire is an extremely rare cover by an artist whose work is rarely encountered and who focused on Gothic Pulp illustrations. This auction includes five Coye lots which never have been offered previously at auction from the same private collection. Brundage always manages to capture her audience with her dramatic rendering of women as seen in The Slithering Shadow.

Other Pulp highlights in the sale include:

    •    Hugh Joseph Ward Desert Madness, Spicy Adventure Stories magazine cover, May 1935 (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
    •    Norman Saunders Murder's Little Helper, Black Mask cover, September 1950 (estimate: $8,000-12,000)

The sale features a strong selection from the Golden Age of Illustration Art. Fresh to the auction market, Haddon Hubbard Sundblom Sprite Boy, Coca-Cola advertisement, 1949 (estimate: $10,000-15,000) is a wonderful example of famed Coca-Cola illustrator Haddon Hubbard Sundblom, and comes directly from its exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Also offered are several examples of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann illustrations straight from the family of the publisher, including this delightful cover: Johnny Gruelle Raggedy Ann's Fairy Stories book cover, 1934 (estimate: $5,000-7,000), and the first offering from the Dixon Ticonderoga Collection, Kenneth Pauling Riley’s They Raised a Great Shout (estimate: $10,000-15,000), which features Ethan Allen during the Battle of Ticonderoga, a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War.

From one of the most popular pin-up artists comes Patrick Nagel Untitled, 1982 (estimate: $60,000-80,000). Nagel’s signature style of images of beautiful women, often with dark or bright red lips and dark hair and eyebrows, captures the roots of early 20th-century graphic design, and has been utilized extensively in fashion and music, including on the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio album. This acrylic on canvas, measuring 40 by 30 inches, is signed and dated lower right and appears on page 76 of The Art of Patrick Nagel (Mark Editions, 1985).

Three of the top lots in the sale are by noted American pin-up artist Gil Elvgren, whose work was popular in advertising and illustration. The top Elvgren lots in the sale include:

    •    Gil Elvgren A Put-Up Job, Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration, 1955 (estimate: $40,000-60,000), oil on canvas reproduced as figure No. 279 in Gil Elvgren All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups by Charles G Martignette and Louis K. Meisel (Taschen, 1999).
    •    Gil Elvgren The Ace of Hearts (estimate: $30,000-50,000) is one of the artist’s most popular images, oil on canvas from the IRI Collection.
    •    Gil Elvgren Neat Trick, 1953 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) also comes from the IRI Collection, and was reproduced as figure 320 in Gil Elvgren All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups by Charles G. Martignette and Louis K. Meisel (Taschen, 1999). An original 1969 calendar accompanies this lot.

Other top pin-up lots in the sale include, but are not limited to:

    •    Enoch Bolles Dancer, Breezy Stories magazine cover, August 1935 (estimate: $25,000-35,000)
    •    Patrick Nagel Standing Nude, Playboy illustration (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
    •    Alberto Vargas Legacy Nude (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
    •    Alberto Vargas Merry Widow, 1951 (estimate: $20,000-30,000)