Original Bemelmans Illustration Coming to Auction

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Dust jacket for Madeline and the Bad Hat. photo credit: Wikimedia


The cosmos must be sending out veggie vibes to bibliophiles these days--after last week’s story on Bill Dailey’s collection of antiquarian vegetarian cookbooks comes another, slightly mischievous argument to go meat-free: on August 25 PBA Galleries in San Francisco will auction an original illustration from Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline and the Bad Hat. This charming signed ink and watercolor painting dates from 1956 and is the original illustration that Bemelmans reproduced for the third volume of his beloved Madeline series.

The illustration “He Built Himself a Guillotine ” depicts Madeline’s recently arrived neighbor Pepito--the “bad hat” of the tale--about to commit poultricide in the name of gastronomy. Pepito and his chef are preparing the family chickens for that day’s meal while Madeline and her friends tearfully witness the imminent carnage from their window perch next door. To put it bluntly, this kid is a total brat, and his shenanigans test the limits of Madeline’s patience. Pepito continues to torture helpless creatures until one of his plans backfires. While Pepito convalesces, Madeline convinces him to change course, and the reformed animal bully becomes a vegetarian. Some readers consider Madeline and the Bad Hat controversial--depictions of animal cruelty aren’t so hip these days--but like many bad boys before him, Pepito sees the error of his ways and vows to become a better person.

Lightly worn with evidence of prior framing, this lot is accompanied by a signed copy of the first trade edition of the book. Bids will open at $20,000.

For more information and to view images of the painting, visit http://www.pbagalleries.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/395/lot/125650/

                                                                                                                                                                                           

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Chicken for every pot. photo credit: BB Richter

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