In 2007, a historical footnote about France’s military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, gained wide attention suggesting that he was a failed novelist. The French publishing house Fayard had released the full version of Napoleon’s novella, Clisson et Eugénie, culled from six far-flung, ink-blotted manuscript fragments. That same year, the rediscovery and subsequent sale in France of one of its pages for €24,000 ($27,000) stimulated yet more interest in the Emperor’s literary prose.
Now, a substantial section of the manuscript is to be auctioned on 21 September at Bonhams in New York, where the auction house expects it will reach as much as a quarter of a million dollars.
Rediscovered Seuss Watercolor & Political Cartoons at Swann Auction Galleries First Fall Illustration Art Sale
Debuting at auction is an original rediscovered 1950 watercolor by Dr. Seuss for Tadd and Todd, first published in Redbook Magazine. The sketch, which appears in the 2011 book The Bippolo Seed, is estimated at $12,000 to $18,000. Other works by beloved children’s book illustrators include Garth Williams’s 1953 pencil drawing of Pet and Bunny for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie; the pencil study and finished drawing for the cover of Frog and Toad All Year (1976) by Arnold Lobel; and a circa 1950s culinary-inspired watercolor by Ludwig Bemelmans titled Does Chef Find the Pheasant Pleasant?, all estimated at $4,000 to $6,000. Disney fans will be delighted by original illustrations for Fantasia, circa 1940, and The Three Caballeros, 1944 ($2,000 to $3,000 and $800 to $1,200, respectively).
The sale continues the Swann tradition of offering original New Yorker cartoons and covers, many with timely election themes. Arthur Getz dominates the field with three original casein tempera covers: Lincoln Banner, 1948 Republican National Convention, published June 19, 1948 ($4,000 to $6,000); Election Morning, published November 1, 1952 ($3,000 to $5,000); and Voting Booth, published November 3, 1962 ($2,500 to $3,500). A run of full-page cartoons by Charles Addams is led by Noisy Neighbor, published April 28, 1951, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, along with an Addams Family 1943 original, “This is Your Room. If You Should Need Anything, Just Scream,” watercolor, ink and wash, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. Other favorites include Frank Modell, William Steig and contemporary cartoonist Tom Toro.
The top lot of the sale is the 1979 oil painting by Earl Moran, Lady in the Light (Marilyn Monroe at Age 20), estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. Also in the “man-caviana” section are a stunning pastel of Carol Lombard by Bradshaw Crandell titled Bathing Beauty (estimate $3,000 to $5,000) as well as cheeky works from Robert Abbett, George Gross, and Jack Kirby.
Coming to auction for the first time in 30 years is a run of original pen and ink drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, commissioned for the 1893 publication of Le Morte d’Arthur, London: Rose Bush ($3,000 to $4,000); Three Stylized Clematis Flowers ($3,000 to $4,000); Four Large Lilies ($2,000 to $3,000). Each flower served as an ornamental motif throughout various chapters of the book, representing different themes in each.
A strong selection of advertising art is led by Portrait of Charles Beach as the Arrow Collar Man, a 1920 ovoid oil painting by Joseph Christian Leyendecker of his longtime partner, for the eponymous popular campaign, estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. Sketches by Maurice Sendak for Bell Atlantic’s 1998 campaign introducing internet service, titled Wild Things Are Happening, feature his beloved Wild Things as well as recognizable images from his other books ($4,000 to $6,000). A pen, ink and watercolor drawing by Sendak, titled Kiko’s Ferryboat, 1965, is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.
There are stunning gouache covers for Harper’s Bazaar by the graphic artist Erté, led by La Cage Improvisée, published July, 1922, which is expected to sell for $6,000 to $9,000. Man Ray makes an appearance with the mesmerizing pen and ink drawing La Femme Portative, 1937, estimated at $15,000 to $20,000. Among the earliest lots in the sale is the original drawing for the cover of the first edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Song of the English, 1909, by W. Heath Robinson.
After setting an auction record for a drawing by Howard Chandler Christy earlier this year, Swann will offer two original drawings by the artist in this auction: Enchanted Evening, charcoal, 1923 ($6,000 to $9,000); and Did You See The Way He Looked At Me?, ink and wash, 1922 ($5,000 to $7,00).
The auction will be held Thursday September 29, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening Saturday, September 24 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, September 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m; Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to noon.
An illustrated auction catalogue will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.
For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at 212-254-4710, extension 20, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grolier Codex is Not a Fake
The Grolier Codex was found in a Chiapas, Mexico cave with a few other items. Unfortunately it was looters who made the discovery and some suspicion was raised which has long remained. The man who bought the book, Mexican collector Josue Saenz, told a fantastical tale, recounting how a pair of looters took him by plane to an unknown place near Tortuguero, Mexico to view the items. Saenz also raised questions when he decided to ship the manuscript off to the Grolier Club in NYC in 1971, a private club and the book’s namesake.
Researchers decided to solve the mystery once and for all. The work was done by Brown University’s Stephen Houston, team lead and Yale professor Michael Coe, Mary Miller from Yale, and the University of California-Riverside’s Karl Taube.
The team at Brown University lead by Yale University professor Michael Coe, researched the work and, as well as the manuscript itself they checked the meaning of the Venus tables’ the iconography and styles featured in the book, the craftsmanship, and carbon dating to help determine it authenticity. According to carbon dating, the Grolier Codex predates the Paris, Dresden, and Madrid codices.
Among the things that convinced the researchers about the codex’s authenticity is that the forgers would have had to know about certain deities — including how to draw them — that hadn’t yet been discovered when the codex was sold.
The Venus calendars were of utmost importance to ancient Mayans, being used to determine which gods and rituals were the current focus. According to the researchers, the manuscript would have served priests and other relevant individuals for three or more generations.
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