Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Tuning Fork at Auction

On December 13, Sotheby's will be auctioning a suite of original pen and ink drawings by Edward Gorey from The Tuning Fork. Curiously, this suite of drawings is not the final published artwork that appears in Amphigorey Also (published in 1983), or in the first edition of this title (published by the Fantod Press in 1990). The drawings being auctioned are not sketches, but rather are completely finished drawings. After checking with Sotheby's, it was confirmed that this suite of 14 drawings plus title page and page of lettering is unpublished. The photo below was provided by Sotheby's Auction House, New York.
The illustrations being auctioned are dated on the reverse, and were made between 10 August 1966 and 19 October 1966, long before the first publication of this work in 1983. On his "A" collection books, Mr. Gorey always dated each individual drawing on the reverse when he started and completed them. He must have intended this to be a final set of artwork, but changed his mind. It would be interesting to know what the dates on the reverse of the final artwork in the Gorey archives are.
Obviously, Mr. Gorey redrew the entire book before publication. It is interesting to compare the earlier drawings with the later illustrations. The composition of the art has not changed at all, but the detailing of the published art is more refined. In the photos above and below, the Sotheby's art is on the left and the published art is on the right. The differences, while clear when viewed side by side, are subtle.

1 comment:

docnad said...

I suppose the big question here is whether The Tuning Fork wasn't first published in 1966 because Mr. Gorey was unsatisfied with it or because a publisher wouldn't accept it. By the time Amphigorey Again was published in 1983, I expect that Gorey had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. The original 1966 drawings are certainly good enough to have published in this or in any format, but Gorey's penwork had improved over the years and he may have felt it was worthwhile to devote another two months or so of his life to refining this project. As you point out, without knowing exactly when the published version of 1983 was drawn, it's hard to say for certain. I believe he was correct to redraw this suite, as the final version benefits from increased contrast and more atmospheric turbulence. I personally suspect that the two versions were executed more than a decade apart.