Records & Results: Illustration Art

Illustration Art Sale at Swann Sets Six Records

Al Hirschfeld’s Marx Brothers Tops Auction at $26k


Our auction of Illustration Art on December 6 saw a bustling auction room as well as live bidding from the newly launched Swann Galleries app. Original works from children’s literature and Peanuts comic strips from Charles M. Schulz were among highlights.

Specialist Christine von der Linn noted:

“We had a strong turnout and set records for six illustrators. The breadth and quality of the material enabled us to further the appreciation and enjoyment of this specific category of art.”


Children’s Literature

Illustrations from children’s literature saw outstanding results, boasting five records: Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar with $20,000; H.A. Rey’s color pencil work for Cecily G and the 9 Monkeys, 1939–the first book to introduce Curious George–earned $17,500.


Lot 14, a framed image of the caterpillar from "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

Lot 14: Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, hand-painted collage. Sold for $20,000.


Lot 40, an image from H.A. Rey's book "Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys" featuring the monkeys using a giraffe as a bridge to get from one side to the other.

Lot 40: H.A. Rey, Do You Want To Get Across?, illustration from Cecily G and the 9 Monkeys featuring the first appearance of Curious George, colored pencil, charcoal & watercolor, 1939. Sold for $17,500.


A watercolor and ink alternate version of the title page for Angelina Ballerina by Helen Craig saw $5,460, and Leonard Weisgard’s double-page illustration for The Golden Christmas Tree brought $5,000.


Lot 17, the title page image by Helen Craig from "Angelina Ballerina" featuring the title character performing ballet on stage.

Lot 17: Helen Craig, Angelina Ballerina, watercolor and ink, 1983. Sold for $5,460.


Lot 65, illustration by Leonard Weisgard for "The Golden Christmas Tree" featuring six monkeys decorating a christmas tree while the giraffe helps place the star on top.

Lot 56: Leonard Weisgard, The Monkeys put the Ornaments on. And the Giraffe Laid, at the Top A Star, illustration for The Golden Christmas Tree, acrylic on paper, 1988. Sold for $5,000.


Two archives from Helen Stone found buyers: a rich collection of production material from Tell Me, Mr. Owl, 1957, which included sketches, studies and thoughtfully composed finished drawings garnered $3,500, a record for the artist; and the 50-page mockup of Watch Honeybees with Me, 1964, with numerous illustration, was collected by an institution for $688.


Lot 51, Helen Stone's working archive of illustrations for "Tell Me, Mr. Owl" featuring a little boy in a red cap looking up at the moon while an owl sits on a branch.

Lot 51: Helen Stone, Tell Me, Mr. Owl, archive of working and published drawings, 1957. Sold for $3,500.


Lot 52, Helen Stone's working cover of "Watch Honey Bees with Me" featuring a large honey bee on a yellow background.

Lot 53: Helen Stone, Watch Honeybees with Me, archive of working and published drawings. Sold for $688.


Also present was Jerry Pinkney’s special holiday watercolor for a 2009 cover of School Library Journal, which realized $7,000.


Lot 38, Jerry Pinkney's illustration for the cover of School Library Journal which features titular characters from "The Lion & The Mouse" catching snowflakes on their tongues.

Lot 38: Jerry Pinkney, The Lion & The Mouse, illustration for the December 2009 cover of School Library Journal, watercolor, graphite & wash. Sold for $7,000.


Al Hirschfeld

The runaway top lot of the sale was a pen and ink drawing of the Marx Brothers by famed cartoonist Al Hirschfeld. The illustration for the cover of Why a Duck?, 1971, which features Chico, Harpo and Groucho in classic Hirschfeld style, barreled through its high estimate of $7,500 selling for $26,000 after a bidding war.


Lot 233, Al Hirschfelds illustration of the Marx Brothers.

Lot 233: Al Hirschfeld, The Marx Brothers, illustration for the cover of Why a Duck,?, 1971. Sold for $26,000.


Charles M. Schulz & Cartoons

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang took the spotlight with five original Peanuts comic strips by Charles M. Schulz earning top spots in the sale. The Years are Going by Fast, 1979, which put Schroeder, his piano and Lucy’s fussbudget personality on display; along with Everyone Needs to Have Hope, 1971, with Snoopy atop his doghouse, were sold to collectors.


Lot 246, "Peanuts" comic strip featuring Schroeder playing the piano and Lucy yelling at him.

Lot 246: Charles M. Schulz, The Years are Going By Fast, original 4-panel Peanuts comic strip, 1979. Sold for $12,500.


Eventually, That Could Wear Out My Nose, 1971, Woodstock is Searching for His Identity, 1972–each featuring Snoopy and Woodstock; and Neighborhood Dog of the Year, 1973, with Linus and his ever-present security blanket, were won by an institution. Each of the five strips brought $12,500.


Lot 248, "Peanuts" comic strip featuring Snoopy atop his doghouse with Woodstock bouncing back and forth on his nose.

Lot 248: Charles M. Schulz, Eventually, That Could Wear Out My Nose, original 4-panel Peanuts comic strip, 1971. Sold for $12,500.


Lot 250, Peanuts comic strip featuring Linus nominating Snoopy for dog of the year in order to get his blanket back.

Lot 250: Charles M. Schulz, Neighborhood Dog of the Year, original 4-panel Peanuts comic strip, 1973. Sold for $12,500.


Additional cartoons included an original 11-panel Doonesbury strip, Is Rufus Ready for his Lesson? by Garry Trudeau. The comic was dedicated and inscribed to the influential psychologist, educator and civil rights activist Kenneth B. Clark ($5,750).


Lot 256, Gary Trudeaus Doonesbury comic strip with features 11 panels with the character Rufus discussing school and learning about his black identity with his tutor.

Lot 256: Gary Trudeau, Is Rufus Ready for his Lesson, original 11-panel Doonesbury comic strip specially created for Kenneth B. Clark, circa early 1970s. Sold for $5,750.


The New Yorker

Illustrations from The New Yorker performed well, with a cartoon by Charles Addams of a couple passing a giant birdhouse which sold for $16,250, and a 1926 New Yorker cover by James Daugherty–the earliest cover for the publication offered at Swann to date–realized $3,750.


Lot 258, framed illustration by Charles Addams featuring a couple walking past a giant birdhouse in the woods.

Lot 258: Charles Addams, Couple passing a giant birdhouse, cartoon for the January 17, 1948 issue of The New Yorker, watercolor, ink & wash. Sold for $16,250.


Lot 264, illustration by James Daugherty for "The New Yorker" featuring mannerist style ice skaters.

Lot 264: James Daugherty, Skaters on the Ice, cover illustration for The New Yorker, January 1926. Sold for $3,750.


Other notable lots included: a previously unknown work by Rockwell Kent, To All Fascists for the League of the American Writers ($6,500); and Mary Mayo’s illustration for a General Mills Wheaties advertisement ($3,000, a record for the artist).


a broadside entitled To All Fascists signed by members of The League of American Writers, illustration of a man letting a bird out of its cage by Rockwell Kent.

Lot 111: Rockwell Kent, To All Fascists, broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937 or 1938. Sold for $6,500.


Lot 203, illustration by Mary Mayo featuring a young boy in a football uniform pointing at himself.

Lot 203: Mary Mayo, I’ll have my picture on the box some day!, illustration for a General Mills Wheaties advertisement, gouache, 1957. Sold for $3,000.


Scottish illustrator Sir William Russell Flint found success with a watercolor and gouache scene from Homer’s Odyssey of Penelope weaving her shroud selling for $22,500.


Lot 63, illustration by Sir William Russel Flint for the "Odyssey" showing Penelope weaving her shroud with her handmaid while waiting for Odysseus to return

Lot 63: Sir William Russell Flint, illustration for the Odyssey, gouache and watercolor, 1914. Sold for $22,500.


Complete Results.

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