Auctions | February 25, 2015

Steinberg, Beardsley, Kent, & Rackham Reigned at Swann Galleries’ Illustration Art Sale


New York—Swann Galleries’ third Illustration Art on January 22 saw a well-attended preview and more than 500 registered bidders. The eclectic offering of original works truly had something for everyone—from vintage advertisements to book and magazine illustrations. The result was strong prices in all categories, with several records set.

The top lot of the day was a pen and ink drawing with collage by Saul Steinberg, Equivalent of 8, which appeared in the November 17, 1962 issue of The New Yorker Magazine. Estimated at $3,500 to $5,000, the illustration brought $20,000*.

Also sailing past pre-sale estimates were two pen and ink drawings by Aubrey Beardsley that appeared in The Bon-Mots of Samuel Foote and Theodore Hook, one depicting a Young Tough, the other A Miser, which sold for $13,750 and $11,875 respectively. The former set a record for an illustration in this medium by the artist.

Additional record-setting lots included two works by female artists: Susan Beatrice Pearse’s Dreamland, mixed media with acrylic, wash and watercolor on board, used for the cover of the January 1913 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, $13,125 and Lucille Corcos’s Everybody’s Downtown, tempera on board, circa 1950, a charming painting of a busy main street at night, in Corcos’s highly detailed and colorful style, $8,125.


Works by classic illustrators included Rockwell Kent’s original pen and ink drawing for the frontispiece of the Lakeside Press edition of Moby Dick—one of Kent’s most important illustrated works—1930, $12,500; Arthur Rackham’s Frost, watercolor, ink, and wash on paper, circa 1922, $11,250; a Joseph C. Leyendecker Study For World War I Soldier for the July 7, 1917 cover of Collier’s National Weekly, oil on canvas, $9,375; Franklin Booth’s Fountain, watercolor for a 1915 issue of Life Magazine, $6,500 and William Russell Flint’s watercolor They went into their country of Benoye, and lived there in great joy, from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, 1910-1911, also $6,500.

Children’s book highlights included two pieces by Garth Williams, one the spider web that appeared on the endpapers of Charlotte’s Web, circa 1952, the other a scene of dancing rabbits from The Rabbits’ Wedding, which brought $10,650 each; as well as Gennady Spirin’s The Sea King’s Daughter, watercolor, 1997, $8,750; Everett Shinn’s Rip Van Winkle, pen and ink circa 1939, $6,250; and Ludwig Bemelmans’s iconic red-haired heroine Madeline, in gouache, pen and ink, $5,000.

Decidedly not for children were Peter Driben’s pin-up girl in How to Tickle A Gal’s Fancy, oil on board, $8,750 and a relatively tame watercolor by Gerda Wegener, Das Bild eine Mädchen: Brigette Bergman, circa 1920, $7,000.

Among in-demand advertising works were Frederick Sands Brunner’s Par-T-Pack Cola, featuring a Rita Hayworth lookalike sharing soft drinks with a group of U.S. servicemen, oil on canvas, circa 1943, $6,250 and McClelland Barclay’s bathing beauty for Royal Crown Ginger Ale, oil on canvas, $5,750.

Rounding out the sale were Edward Gorey dust jacket illustrations, James McMullan’s poster designs for Lincoln Center Theater productions and notable costume designs by Edith Head and others.

For complete results, an illustrated catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

For further information, and to propose consignments to upcoming Illustration Art auctions, please contact Christine von der Linn at (212) 254-4710 ext. 20,; or John D. Larson at ext.61,

 *All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Saul Steinberg, Equivalent of 8, 1962. Estimated at $3,500 to $5,000. Sold for $20,000 including buyer’s premium.

Second image: Arthur Rackham, Frost, watercolor, ink, and wash on paper, circa 1922. Sold for $11,250 including buyer’s premium.