Monday, January 27, 2014
The 20th Century Illustration Auction at Swann Galleries held on January 23 concluded with strong prices realized on many of the lots offered. Of particular interest were the eight pieces of original art by Edward Gorey. This grouping was consigned from several different collections, and each piece offered was sold.
All the pieces in the auction were water color paintings with pen & ink. The artwork ranged from a work created by young Edward in 1939 when he was in middle school (see the bathing beauty to the left) to a piece created in 1998, just two years before he died. Cat in a portable niche (see image at the top) was created in 1974 for Mr. Gorey's Plain & Coloured Drawings exhibition at the Graham Gallery. A fanciful Pool Party featured a line of suntanned hipsters sipping cocktails and comparing their Capri Pants and exposed navels.
Of particular interest were four dust jacket cover designs by Mr. Gorey for books from the John Bellairs book series. Each was accompanied by the separate piece of art for the lettering. One of these pieces, the dust jacket design for The Ghost in the Mirror, has some curious numbers written in the margins below the image. These numbers represent the original mid-90's Gotham Book Mart price of the piece: for the back cover (900), the front cover (850) or the painting as a whole (1600). If you reference my posting from January 18, 2010 you will find out more about this unusual, short lived occurrence of cutting up the Bellairs art. Fortunately, the original purchaser decided to buy the piece as a whole, thus preserving a wonderfully spooky painting.