Gil Elvgren Pin-Up Takes Center Stage in Heritage’s Illustration Art Auction

BEVERLY HILLS—One of Gil Elvgren’s greatest pin-up paintings, Thinking of You (Retirement Plan), Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration, 1962, which graced the cover of Gil Elvgren, The Complete Pin-Ups by Charles Martignette—and comes from his vaunted collection—is expected to bring well in excess of $100,000 when it crosses the block as part of Heritage’s May 7 Illustration Art Signature® Auction

“This is one of the masterwork’s from The Martignette Estate that we’ve been holding onto,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “It’s iconic, it’s gorgeous, it’s Elvgren in absolutely peak form. This painting has everything that a collector could want and we expect a final price realized in concordance with its desirability.”

The painting anchors a grouping of 10 original Elvgren works that is itself the centerpiece of a very deep lineup of pin-up art from a wide selection of masters of the form, including Rolf Armstrong’s pastel Patriotic Jewel Flowers, Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration, circa 1940s, a masterpiece of light, shade and reflection from one of the best to ever pick up a brush.

Also of special note are four paintings by definitive 1980s Playboy artist Patrick Nagel, prices for whom have been well on the rise in recent years. The quartet includes Untitled (Her Look), 1983, an alluring canvas featuring all the hallmarks that draw collectors to Nagel.

“Not only are these all excellent examples,” said Hignite, “they all come from a single owner and have never been offered before on the open market.”

The auction showcases the strongest selection of paperback book cover art and men’s adventure magazine art that Heritage has offered in quite some time, along with an array of pulp magazine cover art, led by one of the absolute best H.J. Ward Spicy covers ever offered, or seen: Hugh Joseph Ward’s Doll of Death, Spicy Mystery pulp cover, August 1938.

The huge selection of men’s adventure magazine cover art is led by prime examples like Will Hulsey’s Lizards From Hell, True Men Stories pulp magazine cover, February 1957, a terrific example of 1950s action illustration, and Norm Eastman’s I Fought Hitler's Special Maiden-Torturing Kommandos, World of Men magazine cover, April 1966, a classic 1960s painting featuring all the elements embodied by the best art of its kind.

There is one important change in the Illustration Art auction to make note of: in recent auctions, Heritage has been splitting its catalogs between “Pulp & Pin-Up Art” and “Golden Age & Classic Art.” For the current auction, Heritage has separated a substantial group of the best “Golden Age” paintings by the likes of Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell, Jessie Willcox Smith, Harvey Dunn and their peers into a section in its upcoming American Art auction, taking place on May 10 in Dallas.

“The selection in the auction is truly one of the finest groups of classic illustration Heritage has ever assembled,” said Hignite.

We look forward to seeing many of you in Beverly Hills for the lots to follow on May 7, and in Dallas for the Golden Age portion on May 10—and as always detailed scans of all lots can be viewed online at HA.com/5165 and HA.com/5174, respectively.

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 850,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

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