Monday, July 26, 2010

The Secret of the Underground Room

The Secret of the Underground Room by John Bellairs was published in 1990 by Dial Books for Young Readers. Edward Gorey created the dust jacket artwork for this title. This beautifully crafted painting was not included in the Bellairs offerings which Mr. Gorey sold through The Gotham Book Mart. I do not know what became of this work. This is the only book in the Bellairs series without a frontis illustration.

This is one of Mr. Gorey's disjointed dust jacket covers where the image from the rear panel does not flow smoothly into the front. The outdoor scene on the back makes an abrupt change at the edge of the book's spine, with the front cover showing "the underground room". Even so, the front cover portion is one of my favorite paintings created for this book series. The masterful work has only hints of colors, but the mood evoked by the tones fits the story perfectly. Edward Gorey is quoted as saying he painted in "mushroom colors", and this is a perfect example.


Anonymous said...

Mystery solved! I own Edward Gorey's original cover artwork for John Bellairs "The Secret of the Underground Room" - full color cover and text overlay. I purchased the pieces on 4/6/1995 from the Gotham Book Mart when visiting NYC. Mr. Gorey was selling several pieces of original artwork because he needed to replace the roof on his house. I also purchased a copy of the book and jacket signed by Mr. Gorey. Over a three day period I purchased several signed first editions including the Beastly Baby and the boxed set of The Vinegar Works plus signed numbered or alpha editions of newer works. I did purchase another piece of original artwork, The East Wing, 3"x 3 3/8" portrait of a woman's portrait in flames. I'm a librarian with a specialization in rare books and fine printing so the artwork and books are well taken care of. I fell in love with Gorey during library school in the early 1970's. Collected whenever I could.

ampootozote said...

Glad to hear that it is in good hands and is being enjoyed!