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Swann Illustration Art sale is packed with classics by Bemelmans, Gorey, Seuss, Wegener & more
Tom H. John, Emerald City, mixed media, a pair of set designs for the 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz. Estimate $2,500 to $3,500. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries’ sale of Illustration Art on Tuesday, December 10 will feature an impressive selection of original works. Highlights include an array of theater set designs by some of the most recognizable names in the genre, classic illustrations from children’s literature, as well as illustrations for The New Yorker.

Leading the sale is Charles Addams’s Nevermore the for October 29, 1973 issue of The New Yorker. The cartoon, picturing Edgar Allan Poe as he struggles to find the perfect voice for his famous narrative poem, is set to come across the block at $12,000 to $18,000. Addams’s advertisement for Chivas Regal scotch whisky published in the February 29, 1964 issue of The New Yorker is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.

Further selections from the sale’s distinct assortment of New Yorker works include current contributors: a group of two cartoons by Sara Lautman published in the February 11 and July 1, 2019 issues and Emily Flake’s Hang On—I’ll Uber Us a School Bus, published in the May 23, 2016 issue, offered at $1,000 to $1,500, each. Offered alongside these works is Ilonka Karasz’s Chop Suey cover illustration for the August 27, 1927 issue, at $4,000 to $6,000.

Familiar faces abound in an offering of original works from children’s literature. Ernest H. Shepard’s 1949 pen-and-ink drawing for the timeless Christmas story Bertie’s Escapade by Kenneth Grahame is present at $10,000 to $15,000. A run of works from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland include three works from D.R. Sexton’s 1933 edition, most notably a flapper Alice with the hookah-smoking caterpillar ($3,000-4,000), as well as Harry Rountree’s 1901 illustration featuring the queen ($6,000-9,000). H.A. Rey’ watercolor and gouache work for Rafi et les 9 singes—the first book to introduce Curious George—depicts Cecily Giraffe smiling as monkeys ski down her long neck ($10,000-15,000). Also available is Ludwig Bemelmans, with sketch of Miss Clavel in a garden with Madeline and the Eiffel Tower in the background ($6,000-9,000).

Dr. Seuss’s 1937 calendar watercolor illustration It’s our first … don’t you think it looks like George? for the Thomas D. Murphy Co.—the largest color project of Seuss’s career at the time—is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Additional designs by Seuss feature a superb original advertisement intended for billboard and print ads for Holly Sugar (featuring a somewhat skeptical-looking Grinch-like character munching on a tart blueberry pie), expected to bring $7,000 to $10,000.

Two original four-panel Peanuts cartoons by Charles Schulz mark the high point of the comics section. The first features Linus and Lucy contemplating how one measures a star in a strip published on November 21, 1961, while the second, published on May 9, 1963, is signed and inscribed and portrays Patty and Charlie Brown. Each are estimate at $8,000 to $12,000.

Tom H. John and Jo Mielziner take center stage in a remarkable offering of theatrical set designs. Following up on the record-setting sale of Mielziner this past spring, the legendary scenic designer is available with the first color study produced for the award-winning 1947 production of A Street Car Named Desire, signed and inscribed by the designer, at $7,000 to $10,000, as well as the design for Scene IV of the 1929 play The Red General, at $6,000 to $9,000. Tom H. John is present with a run of whimsical set designs for the groundbreaking 1975 Broadway production of the African-American cast of The Wiz: Emerald City ($2,500-3,500), Land of the Munchkins ($2,000-3,000), Funky Monkey ($1,000-1,500), and an assortment of 22 set designs and backdrops ($2,500-3,000). Also available by the artist are a group of four set designs for the 1976 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls ($3,000-4,000).

Works from the collection of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust include costume designs for a 1975 production of the second act of Swann Lake with commentary and descriptions by Gorey ($8,000-12,000) and Ballet in a Nutshell, published in the January 1974 issue of Dance Magazine ($7,000-10,000).

Notable fashion advertisements and cover designs include Julie Castillo’s 1992 original ad for Polo Ralph Lauren Stadium Competition series clothing line ($1,000-1,500); Gerda Wegener is available with two circa 1920 pen and ink drawings likely for Gyraldose or Malaceïne toiletries ($700-1,000); and Georges Lepape’s Sur la Terrasse, the cover illustration for the May 10, 1930 issue of Vogue ($8,000-12,000).

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