New York—Swann Galleries will close the auction season with their popular sale of Illustration Art on Thursday, December 14. The house’s newest department specializes in original works of art intended for publication. This will be the largest selection of material they’ve offered to date, both by number of lots and overall value.
The star of the sale is Georges Lepape’s ethereal portrait of Madame Condé Nast in a Fortuny gown against a dark sky. The watercolor painting with gold highlights, Après la Tempête, served as the cover of Vogue at the end of World War One. Lepape inscribed the work to its subject, and included symbolic details such as the tri-color pin on her lapel and dispersing storm clouds. The work carries an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000, and will be closely watched after the house set an auction record for the artist in September 2016.
A vibrant and charming portion of the sale is devoted to familiar protagonists in children’s literature. A large watercolor by Jerry Pinkney, the first African-American artist awarded the Caldecott Medal, features his recurring characters Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear in Further Tales of Uncle Remus, with a value of $20,000 to $25,000. Madeline, Miss Clavel, and the 11 schoolgirls make an appearance, alongside a large painting by Ludwig Bemelmans of the Verandah Grill Luncheon on the Queen Mary ($30,000 to $40,000 and $12,000 to $18,000, respectively). Fans of Maurice Sendak will delight in a glimpse at the master’s process through a study and finished watercolor featuring the beloved Little Bear family from Bears Around the World, 1981, with a value of $15,000 to $25,000.
A Great Gallumphing Galoot! is a unique llama-like creature drawn by Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, in the front endpaper of Dr. Seuss’s ABC. The inscription to the book’s original owner reads, in part “…how very sorry I am that it has taken so long to get your book back to you. I’m hoping to have made it up to you (somewhat) with the added time and care that went into it.” It is valued at $8,000 to $12,000.
December 2017 is the 80th anniversary of Snow White, 1937, the first feature film produced by Walt Disney and a milestone in the history of cinema. A scrapbook in this sale, kept by an inker working on the project, records the production and reception of the film, replete with 20 original animation drawings of the protagonists and supporting characters, ephemera relating to the feature, and a page of very specific Director’s notes in what appears to be Disney’s own hand ($7,000 to $10,000).
Since its formation, the Illustration Art department at Swann Galleries has gained a reputation as a preeminent resource for original cartoons and covers published by The New Yorker. Their strongest offering yet, with nearly 30 new-to-market works, is led by an iconic cartoon by Charles Addams, originally published in 1947, titled Movie Scream. The ink-and-watercolor drawing includes a portrait of his then-wife Barbara Jean Day, who inspired the iconic Morticia Addams ($12,000 to $18,000). Political jabs by Tom Toro published as recently as February 2017 prove the longevity of the medium. Colorful covers include beloved works by Abe Birnbaum, Arthur Getz and Garrett Price. Peter Arno’s iconic 1956 cover Party Crashers is expected to sell between $4,000 and $6,000.
A novelty map of the 1939 New York World’s Fair by Elmer Simms Campbell will also be available. The style is reminiscent to the artist’s famed A Night-Club Map of Harlem, 1932, which sold at Swann in May 2016 for a record $100,000. The World’s Fair map lampoons the modernity of the event as well as the international pavilions, with characteristic commentary and dialogue from the figures populating the fair ($3,000 to $5,000).
Advertising illustration is led by two John Philip Falter oil paintings for Four Roses Whiskey, 1942, estimated at $15,000 to $20,000 each. Other highlights include a Lucille Corcos illustration for a Fortune article ($4,000 to $6,000), a Charles M. Schulz pen-and-ink drawing of Snoopy for Hostess ($2,000 to $3,000) and a concept drawing by Saul Steinberg for a 1953 Jell-O Instant Pudding commercial ($2,500 to $3,500).
The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com.
Lot 135: Georges Lepape, Après la Tempête, watercolor, ink, graphite and gold highlighting, cover illustration for Vogue, 1919. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.