The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Ewbank's set to create market for beloved children's illustrator with landmark sale on July 15
Featured are original illustrations for Sarah Hayes’ The Grumpalump (1991).

LONDON.- Occasionally a single auction has the power to make a market for an artist. Ewbank’s Auctions have created that opportunity with nearly 200 lots of illustrations and original artwork by the late illustrator Barbara Firth (1928-2013).

To be offered on July 15, the collection – acquired from Firth’s estate after she died in 2013 – includes images from some of her most celebrated characters, including Waldo, the pet tortoise she kept till her death and who, at over 100, was considerably older than the artist herself.

Also featured are original illustrations for Sarah Hayes’ The Grumpalump (1991), a wide range of images from the Great Escapes series of stories, featuring animals such as Jack the Dog, Tumult the Rabbit and Romeo & Juliet the Lovebirds, as well as the magnificently bizarre tale of The Munro’s New House. There is even one original drawing from her most popular series involving Little Bear.

As auctioneer Chris Ewbank says: “This is not the sort of auction that we expect to hit the headlines for the amount of money it might make, but it is exceptional in other ways, not least because it is filled with works that have come directly from the artist’s estate and because the strikingly beautiful work by Barbara Firth appears on the market so rarely that collecting prices for her are not really established, yet she has a keen following.”

Unique opportunity for collectors
Many of the works are annotated with studio instructions and none are signed. Very few of her watercolours have ever come on to the open market and this collection provides a unique opportunity for buyers, with estimates from as low as £10-20 reaching up to around the £100 mark for individual lots.

Born in Cheshire, Firth enjoyed drawing as a child but had no formal art education. When she was three, she began drawing plants and animals, and when she was eleven years old, her family moved to the country, where she was able to spend even more time sketching the flora and fauna around her.

Delighting in her lack of training, she said: “I have been very lucky, as my career in drawing is also my favourite hobby.”

A career in fashion saw here as Vogue production director on books on crochet, knitting and dressmaking for 15 years before moving to Marshall Cavendish, where she met Amelia Edwards who commissioned her to illustrate non-fiction work. Firth established what was to prove a long-term partnership with publishers Walker Books and she collaborated regularly with Martin Waddell on his Little Bear books.

She won the 1988 Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded by the Library Association for

“distinguished illustration in a book for children”, for her work on Waddell's Can't You Sleep Little Bear, dubbed “as perfect a picture-book as anyone could hope to make”.

Firth lived much of her life in Harrow, with her sister Betty and a household full of pets including Waldo the tortoise.

The online timed auction will start at 9.30am, with bidders being able to browse the catalogue and register online at

Today's News

June 29, 2020

Museum of the City of New York: Reduced but reopening

"Hilma af Klint: Artist, Researcher, Medium" opens at Moderna Museet Malmö

Andrew Jones Auctions' DTLA Collections & Estates sales offer affordable, sustainable interior style

Woodmere Art Museum welcomes Steve Tobin sculpture to outdoor collection

The radical quilting of Rosie Lee Tompkins

Four men charged for trying to pull down statue outside White House

Seminal paintings by Josef Albers to highlight London and Paris, ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century

"Painting at Home with Grandma Moses" highlights artist's influences and techniques

Hamiltons Gallery reopens with long-awaited second half of "Hiro: Fish and Fowl" exhibition

Sotheby's Live Auction of American Art achieves $9 million in New York

Meijer Gardens presents an exploration of George Segal's work across a wide range of media and materials

June Art Fair to partner with Hauser & Wirth

Artcurial announces highlights included in its Jewellery, Watches and Hermès Vintage sales

Important Watches achieve $3.9 million in online sale at Sotheby's New York

Bonhams launches first sale for designer handbags and fashion

Christie's sale offers lighting from the 18th to the 21st century

A Met Opera star was born, and then everything stopped

Ewbank's set to create market for beloved children's illustrator with landmark sale on July 15

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Board appoints three new members

Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum reopen for public to enjoy with pre-booking now essential

A full view, at last, of modern art in South Korea

Michael Hawley, programmer, professor and pianist, dies at 58

Tim Van Laere Gallery opens the group show "Enjoy and Take Care!"

Massimo De Carlo presents a new body of work by Giulio Paolini

The Greatest UK Slot Games You've Never Heard Of

The growing industry that is the NJ casino industry

The Application of Background Check

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful