Notes From the Catalogue: Roy Lichtenstein’s “Sunrise”

Pop art master Roy Lichtenstein is known for creating works in a number of mediums, including paintings, prints and sculpture. Our upcoming auction of Contemporary Art features multiple works by Lichtenstein, including Sunrise, a 1965 color silk panel featuring a cartoon-like sun that was a recurring motif in his work in the mid-1960s.


Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, color silk panel, 1965.

Lot 153: Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, color silk panel, 1965. Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.


According to Mary Lee Corlett, author of The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné 1948-1997, “The image on the fabric was designed by Lichtenstein. It was made into a dress, designed by Lee Rudd Simpson specifically for Lichtenstein’s friend Letty Lou Eisenhauer to wear to his opening at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris in 1965. In addition to the dress, one other panel is known to exist.”


The dress is now in the Kyoto Costume Institute; beyond the dress, there are only three or four known panels. The current panel was acquired directly from the artist and resided in the private collection of one of the collaborators on the dress project who assisted Lee Rudd Simpson with the design and fitting of the dress. According to the collector, there were likely additional panels given to Simpson and another collaborator on the project.


Corlett notes that Lichtenstein used a similar design for a more widely-circulated offset color lithograph, published by Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, that may have been used to promote one of several shows in which Lichtenstein’s work appeared at the gallery during 1965. The sunrise design can also be seen in an oil painting and several enamels on metal, also from 1965. His earliest use of the sunrise motif dates to 1964 in two separate oil paintings. 


More works by Lichtenstein featured in our upcoming auction can be seen here. Take a look at the complete catalogue for more works by prominent pop artists, like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Tom Wesselmann and Robert Indiana