Auctions | December 5, 2013

Illustrating the Holiday Spirit at Bonhams New York

NEW YORK—Festive holiday compositions light up the Illustration Art section of Bonhams Fine Books & Manuscripts auction on December 11. The illustrations were created by many of the genre's finest artists to celebrate the magic of the season. Whether displayed as joyous decor or awaiting discovery in a treasured storybook, these illustrations speak to the annual holiday traditions that delight young and old alike. 

A "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" gouache painting by Richard Scarry, one of the most beloved of all modern children's book illustrators, is sure to charm revelers with its sweet nostalgia (est. $6,000-9,000). The composition was used for the cover of the Little Golden Book Rudolph in 1965, helping to cement this modern-day ugly duckling story as a children's classic.

Gennady Spirin's "Four Calling Birds" is a jubilant yet sophisticated interpretation from his 2009 book The Twelve Days of Christmas, rendered in watercolor with touches of pencil and gilt (est. $2,500-3,500). Spirin's vivid oval composition envisions three parrots and a macaw as the fourth day of Christmas' four calling birds, and the lovely illustration was chosen to grace the front cover. 

Another classic highlight is Denslow's Night Before Christmas, illustrated by the renowned William Wallace Denslow, from 1902 (est. $1,000-1,500). Complete with original pictorial boards, this first edition copy is lavishly signed and inscribed by Denslow with his seahorse monogram to Edna Browning Wilkins. 

Additional gems include Jan Brett's original mixed media illustration "Eight Maids a-Milking" (est. $2,000-3,000); Michael Hague's "Santa Mouse" (est. $1,200-1,800); and Helen Sewell's "Christmas Angles Around a Candle Near a Christmas Tree" (est. $600-900). 

Bonhams will offer Illustration Art on December 11 as part of the Fine Books & Manuscripts auction in New York. The auction will preview in New York December 7-10. 

A complete catalog is available at