Auction Highlights: Illustration Art — December 14, 2023

Lot 148: Dean Cornwell, Sherring followed the lane with the tramp’s air of alertness, oil on canvas, published in Cosmopolitan, 1934. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

After a brief hiatus, the auction solely devoted to Illustration Art is returning on December 14, 2023. The sale will feature artwork published in a wide variety of magazines and books, as well as work from calendars, posters, costume and fashion design, cartoons, and more. Highlights include poster art made for the Office of War Information by Ludwig Bemelmans, a museum-worthy oil painting by Dean Cornwell for Cosmopolitan, several stunning Art Deco watercolors, and the alluring glamour of pinup art by some of the genre’s most skillful artists.

Published anonymously in Fortune magazine, “To Heaven by Subway” provides a thorough and intriguing description of Coney Island near the end of the Great Depression. This illustration for the article by Robert Riggs helps provide a colorful picture of Coney’s many attractions and its visitors, including the games along the Bowery.

Lot 125: Robert Riggs, Paris Nights at Coney Island, tempera on panel, published in Fortune Magazine, 1938. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000.

Book illustrations are represented by works by George Ziel, John Vassos, and Harry Barton.  Of particular note are Robert Shore’s illustration for the limited edition version of From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by Jules Verne in 1970, oil on board, as well as Edward Gorey’s book jacket art for Fonthill, a Comedy by Aubrey Menen.

Lot 40: Robert Shore, Mountain with satellite, oil on board, published in From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by Jules Verne, 1970. Estimate $1,500 to $2,000.
Lot 44: Edward Gorey, Fonthill Abbey with characters, pen and ink with white gouache touch-ups, cover and spine for Fonthill, a Comedy by Aubrey Mennen, 1974. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.

Also featured are two rare pieces that have never been to auction or on exhibit created by Ludwig Bemelmans for the Office of War Information (OWI). Established in June 1942, the OWI was responsible for developing programs to inform the public and promote war efforts. The informational works were designed to encourage the Allies to keep fighting, support unliberated countries to maintain their struggle and weaken the will of the Axis powers.

Pinup art by artists such as Earl Moran, Fritz Willis, and Bill Randall are available at auction. The stunning burlesque Fan Dancer by Al Buell exhibits his masterful skills and dramatic style, and is a rare opportunity to own an original work by the artist.

Lot 182: Al Buell, The Fan Dancer, oil on canvas, created for the Osborne Calendar Company, circa 1940. Estimate $3,000 to $6,000.

On offer are illustrations for children’s books and magazines, as well as animation and cartoon art by artists such as Ludwig Bemelmans, Harrison Cady, Richard Erdoes, and Walt Disney Studios. Highlights include a large Disney Western-themed background concept painting and multi-cel setup by Walt Peregoy for The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961), a small production from which very little material has survived. 

Lot 20: Walt Peregoy (Disney), Western-themed animation background concept and cel setup, created for The Saga of Windwagon Smith, 1961. Estimate $1,500 to $2,000.

An illustration by Arthur Getz stands out among this auction’s offerings from the New Yorker. Getz’s cover art for February 26, 1955 depicts a charming view of a snowy and bustling Central Park. The sale also features New Yorker cartoons by Gluyas Williams, William Steig and Ed Fisher, among others.

Lot 111: Arthur Getz, Sledding In Central Park, casein tempera on canvas, cover of The New Yorker, February 26, 1955. Estimate $2,500 to $3,500.

The auction will also feature a number of fashion, theatre and costume designs, including this Camouflage sketch by 1980s fashion designer icon, Stephen Sprouse. This clothing line came out of a collaboration with artist Andy Warhol who agreed to let Sprouse use imagery from his series of camouflage paintings. The sketch is signed in two places by Warhol.

Lot 100: Stephen Sprouse & Andy Warhol, Fashion design sketch in camouflage, sketch by Stephen Sprouse, signed in two places by Andy Warhol, circa 1987. Estimate $3,000 to $6,000.

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