Laurent de Brunhoff, Illustration for Lesson 7 in Babar’s Spanish Lessons, gouache, watercolor and ink on stiff illustration paper, circa 1965. Estimate: $1,200 to 1,800.
Was childhood classic Babar a multilingual jack-of-all trades or a pachyderm imperialist? In this illustration from Babar’s Spanish Lessons, which was originally published as the elephant’s French lessons, Celeste, Flora, Pom and Alexander help The Teacher make a chocolate cake, with the ingredients spelled carefully in Spanish. Alexandra Peers in The New York Observer notes of the illustration, at auction in the Art, Architecture, Press & Illustrated Books portion of the June 17th sale, that “the plushy monarch’s imperialist ambitions aside, he certainly was keen to proselytize Western languages.”