Sunday, December 29, 2019

Auction News - The Magazine Pieces

Of the eight lots of original artwork by Edward Gorey auctioned at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City on December 10, 2019, three were created for use in periodicals. The largest piece (image size 12.25" x 9.25") was commissioned as a cover for the January/February 1988 issue of Print Magazine. This fantastic watercolor and pen & ink painting is a fantasy image that leaves the viewer with more questions than it answers. The entire piece can be summed up in one word, "Why?". Why are there floating snakes of various colors? Why are there orange mustaches everywhere? Why is there a gramophone at the seaside? Then again, why not? Mr. Gorey left virtually no room for the title of the magazine to be superimposed on the cover, but the art director managed to squeeze it into the upper right hand corner. This glorious painting sold for $16,250.00 (including buyer's premium).

From the 1970's through the 1990's, Edward Gorey created over 25 spot illustrations for TV Guide Magazine, and all of the pieces have three things in common - they are large, colorful, and imaginative. The weekly magazine could be found next to armchairs in living rooms and lounges across the nation, keeping everyone informed of the upcoming broadcast programming. The pages of program listings were made of cheap newsprint, but a color section had television related articles on all subjects, and Mr. Gorey's commissions reflect the eclectic nature of the articles.

For this piece on the trend of recording a video will that would be presented to the grieving survivors, Edward Gorey shows the expectant mourners viewing a television propped on the deceased's final conveyance. It is all too obvious by the preferred placement of the cat that the people will come away disappointed in the testamentary distributions of the deceased. This colors for this piece are muted greens and greys, but the art director must have wanted more "pop" on the page and tweaked the colors towards yellow, downplaying the somber tones of the original. All of Mr. Gorey's pieces for TV Guide are drawn large and reduced for the magazine - this piece measures 7.5" x 5.25", which is almost the size of the magazine itself. This fantastic piece sold for $8125.00 (including buyer's premium).

The third magazine illustration offered was created for the July 19, 1983 issue of Sports Illustrated Magazine for a feature on the history of baseball. This unlikely subject - one cannot imagine an art director saying, "I know, let's commission the art from Edward Gorey! He is a great sports illustrator." - is presented simply, with a strong, compact visual flare. As often happens once the artwork lands in the hands of the art director, the image was severely cropped, tightening the composition but ultimately damaging the finesse of the image. This piece realized $7000.00 (including buyer's premium).

Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Holidays!

from Goreyana

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Auction News - The Ballet Pieces

The December 10, 2019 Illustration Art Auction at Swann Galleries in New York City offered a scintillating selection of original works by Edward Gorey in several themes. Going to the ballet was a lifelong obsession for Edward Gorey and two of the lots offered were ballet themed works.

Ballet in a Nutshell (Lot 42) was the first Gorey piece offered in the auction lineup. Originally published in Dance Magazine in January 1974, this large (8" x 10" image), beautifully detailed pen & ink drawing distills Edward Gorey's innumerable theater going experiences into a single image. The piece sold for $6250.00 (including buyer's premium), the only piece in the group to sell slightly below its pre-auction estimate.

The top half of the nutshell shows three performers dancing on stage, while the lower half shows the theater lounge at intermission. Mr. Gorey was a familiar figure in the lobby lounge, holding court and exchanging bon mots with other attendees. The sometimes complimentary, but more often amusingly bitchy comments rise like poison cigarette smoke from the participants - the man on the far right is holding a cigarette. It could be assumed that the third gentleman from the right is Mr. Gorey himself, the silhouette shows a man in a bulky (fur?) coat.

The fashion styles of the day are evident, even is silhouette. Pant legs are flared. A person (man, woman?) on the left has a neck scarf, over the shoulder bag, leggins, and chunky heeled shoes. The woman in conversation with the Gorey figure has a short, mod skirt and earrings. the central group is an older crowd with bow ties, more traditional dresses and hair ribbons. This drawing clearly represents the time period in which it was created.

This piece is a technical tour de force in pen & ink. Light and shadow are expertly conveyed from the onstage lighting of the performers to the masterful use of white space in the brightly lit theater lobby. The infill of small, vertical lines around the "nut" give a sense of the endless carpet in the theater lobby. This piece is a sibling to Edward Gorey's 1973 volume The Lavender Leotard, or Going A Lot to the New York City Ballet (, which presents much the same subject in book form.
The next lot (Lot 75) included two costume sketches from a 1975 production of Swan Lake, presented by the Andre Eglevsky Company at the Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York. This lot sold for $10,000.00 (with buyers premium), solidly within the estimate. Both of these designs have amusing notations that present intimate windows into Edward Gorey's love of ballet. The notes on the first piece begin with the exclamation, "Whee!". The costumes are clearly presented, with Sigfried's costume is minutely detailed as to types of fabric and decoration.
The owl costume on the second page is similarly detailed and beautifully illustrated. Edward Gorey clearly envisioned how a performer would move in the costume, indicating where and how the large feathered cape was to attach to the dancer's body. Special details, such as "dark brown unshiny boots with cuffs" and "hands in white gloves with finger ends stained black" provide not only costume details, but give the performer a glimpse into the character, as envisioned by Mr. Gorey.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Auction News

Christmas came early for several lucky bidders at Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art Auction on Tuesday December 10. Eight pieces of original artwork by Edward Gorey were offered for sale, with only one of the pieces falling slightly below the presale estimates, while the rest sold at or above the estimates. One piece, the 1988 full color cover painting created for Print Magazine sold for $16,250.00 (including buyer's premium) far exceeding the presale estimate of $7000 - $10,000. A seasonally appropriate highlight of the auction was the full color Christmas card design (shown above), which sold for $7000.00.

All but one of the pieces in this sale were offered by The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, being culled from the Edward Gorey archives and were sold to benefit the charitable donations made to animal causes by the Trust. The winning bidders are now the first private owners of the works, essentially purchasing the pieces from Edward Gorey himself. Purchasing directly from Mr. Gorey (either from the artist himself or through Gotham Book Mart) has not been possible since the time of his death in early 2000. For the past nineteen years, original art has only been available on the secondary market and was limited to pieces sold before February 2000.

Goreyana will take a look at some of the other pieces from this auction in in upcoming posts.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Holiday Auction News

The original artwork for this wonderful Christmas Card design by Edward Gorey will be auctioned at Swann Galleries in NYC next week along with seven other Gorey originals.  Go HERE  to see these and the other original pieces being offered on December 10.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Where is the Dragon?

For his entire career, Edward Gorey was an artist for hire who could, and often did, illustrate anything he was commissioned to undertake. If an author was fortunate enough to secure Mr. Gorey's professional services, the artistic and financial rewards could be considerable. Mr. Gorey was not however, the type of collaborator who would chat for hours with a client, if at all. Even so, authors would occasionally make special requests.
Such was the case with Florence Parry Heide with regard to the back cover image for Treehorn's Treasure (1981 Holiday House , New York). Throughout the book, the illustrations picture Treehorn's imaginings as full page thought bubbles. The original artwork intended for the back cover shows an elaborately rendered dragon floating in one of these bubbles while Treehorn himself blows a gum bubble. The printed version of the drawing shows only Treehorn blowing his gum bubble. Where did the dragon go? To unravel the mystery of the disappearing dragon, we turn to Malcolm Whyte, the collector who owns the original artwork.
Malcolm Whyte has collected and written about the works of Edward Gorey for many years and he recently shared his research into the backstory of this wonderful drawing. To unravel the "now you see it, now you don't" aspect of the artwork, Mr. Whyte was put in contact with Florence Parry Heide's children David and Judy by a mutual friend. Judy related that upon viewing the back cover illustration her mother "loathed" it as being too un-Gorey-like and too comical. Feeling strongly about this even though she knew "Edward Goery couldn't stand having people mess with his work or tell him what to do", Mrs. Heide contacted Mr. Gorey and requested the dragon be removed. After the book's publication, the original illustration was gifted to the author by Mr. Gorey in what might be considered a personal comment on her interference. The drawing was later gifted to Andreas Brown from whom it was acquired by Mr. Whyte as a gift for his wife. The Whyte's continue to appreciate and admire the drawing as the exceptional piece of art that it is.

How did this elaborate drawing get whittled down to the spare image adorning the back cover of the book? For such drastic changes to an image, Edward Gorey would typically either redraw the entire piece, or glue pieces of paper over the parts to be removed and redraw on the art itself. Today the image would be altered in a matter of minutes by erasing the dragon on a computer, but in 1971 the process would have been done by hand as a cut and paste using a stat or film. On the original artwork, there are a series of four xeroxed border panels affixed to the surface of the drawing, indicating the new placement of the horizontal decorative border row on the wall. Were the xeroxes made and affixed by Edward Gorey himself? This is one mystery that may never be solved.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Doubtful Guest, Original Artwork From The Edward Gorey Trust

Continuing the daunting task of cataloging the Edward Gorey archive, the Edward Gorey Trust has been regularly posting images of rare original artwork on Instagram. The pieces being shown range from grade school drawings dating from the 1930's - Master Edward's mother appears to have saved much of his early artistic efforts - to pieces from the 1990's. This masterful on-line exhibition gives us a glimpse at some of the treasures that have long been buried within the archive.

A recent post features a drawing from Edward Gorey's third published book, The Doubtful Guest (1957 Doubleday & Company). Arguably one of Mr. Gorey's most beloved publications, the drawing is captioned:

It would carry off objects of which it was fond,
And protect them by dropping them into a pond.

Illustrators have many tricks they employ to quickly make changes to a piece of artwork so they do not need to redraw the entire image. For this Doubtful Guest drawing, multiple changes occurred within the image that are not seen in the printed version. After 62 years, the changes become more obvious as the paper tones slightly, revealing many white gouache (opaque watercolor) corrections.

Crop marks placed by the artist in the four corners of the drawing indicate to the printer the final size and shape of the printed image. For this drawing, the crop marks on all four corners have been adjusted larger than originally indicated. The adjusted cropping changes the feel of the image in the same way that a movie camera can be pulled back to show more of the scene.

The upper image shows the original cropping, while the lower image shows the final cropping. The drawing itself has not changed in any way and the difference the cropping makes is subtle, but significant. The viewer is part of the action in the upper drawing, empathizing with the man in the fur coat. In the final version, the viewer becomes one of the people in the distance, a voyeur looking at the scene but helpless to interact. This, of course fits the tone of the book more accurately, with the family under siege from the benign creature.
The scale of the Doubtful Guest has also been significantly reduced. The gouache shows that Edward Gorey had already inked in an outline for the creature - if the DG were merely drawn in pencil, the lines would simply be erased. This clearly shows how the drawing was constructed. The outline of DG was finalized, then Mr. Gorey went on to draw in and finish the figures and background. At this point, he realized that the scale of the DG was too large and reduced his scale to that of a child in relation to the gentleman. If the DG had been completely inked in, there would be masses of white paint, or a paper cutout would need to have been glued onto the surface to block out the ink. It is interesting to note that the eerie floating quality of the watch is a consequence of the scale change of the DG. The watch was obviously already drawn in because it is scaled and positioned to match the original outline, dropping from its hand/paw/wing rather than floating out in front if the DG.

Just like a good murder mystery, this piece of artwork has many clues indicating how it was done and why it happened the way it did! To view more treasures from the Edward Gorey archive, follow EdwardGoreyTrust on Instagram.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Goreyana

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Epiplectic Bicycle

Here is a nice stop-motion animation of Edward Gorey's The Epiplectic Bicycle.  This a MFA student film by Lauren Horoszweski that was made in 2011.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Edwardian Ball 20th Anniversary Season

The Edwardian Ball is kicking off its 20th season on October 23 with A Gorey Halloween. The Edwardian Ball is an Edward Gorey themed event held in San Francisco that is equal parts performance, cosplay, fashion and music. For more information and tickets, go to:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Auction News

You never know where unusual Edward Gorey collectibles will turn up. The September 25 memorabilia auction at Profiles In History included items from the estate of actor Martin Landau. Mr. Landau led the 1984/85 touring production of Dracula, with set and costume designs by Edward Gorey. As a souvenir of the production, Mr. Landau had a piece of the set signed by the production's cast and crew.

Edward Gorey's sets had multitudes of bats and skulls scattered about the three interiors. For Miss Lucy's bedroom in Act 2  these skulls were used as drapery stays at the window as as part of the elaborate bed hangings. The skulls are constructed in cast fiberglass with a wooden backing. The surface has been airbrushed  for use on the set. At 7" x 8" x 5", the skull is an impressive Gorey/Dracula/Landau cross reference collectible.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Edward Gorey Inspired Theater

If you reside in St. Louie and are looking for a little mid morning diversion for your children between now and Halloween, you can visit a local library where the Storytime Theater will present A Delightfully Gorey Tale For Tots. The performances are free and will be performed at different libraries in September and October. For the locations and schedule, visit

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


Edward Gorey is now officially on Instagram - @edwardgoreytrust

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Mourning Fan

 The Mourning Fan, or Meanwhile and Elsewhere is a little known book by Edward Gorey that until now has only appeared in the literary omnibus Antaeus in1990. The story consists of thirty verses, each accompanied by a small fan shaped drawing. The book was intended to be Mr. Gorey's third miniature book, but was never published as a stand alone volume in his lifetime.

Aredian Press has issued the of The Mourning Fan in a Deluxe Miniature Limited Edition of 26 copies (lettered A-Z), plus 3 out of sequence copies. Each meticulously crafted book is hand made and comes housed in a custom clam shell box. These exquisite volumes feature individualized touches to the beading on the covers, making each copy in the series unique.

The book has been beautifully produced, with the type for each of the verses set to mimic the fan shaped illustrations. For more information about this special edition, go to:

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Demon Cyclist Artwork

The Broken Spoke by Edward Gorey was published in 1976 by Dodd, Mead and Co. Before its publication, selections from the book's 30 drawings were published as a six page spread in the June 1976 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.

In 1974, Edward Gorey was invited to exhibit artwork at The Graham Gallery in New York City. For this show, Mr. Gorey created 46 new pieces of art. Due to the success of the show, Mr. Gorey was invited to participate in a second show in 1975. More new work was created for this exhibiton. In 1979, Mr. Gorey was persuaded to contribute artwork for a holiday group exhibition at the gallery.

For the 1979 exhibition, Edward Gorey decided to offer artwork from The Broken Spoke rather than create new works specifically for the gallery show. After the exhibition, unsold Broken Spoke pieces
remained in his archive until the art was sold by Gotham Book Mart in the early 2000's.

All of the images created for The Broken Spoke depict various aspects of bicycles and cycling. The conceit of the project is that all of the images are postcards supposedly drawn by Dogear Wryde, the nom de plume Mr. Gorey used when creating post card images.

A recent addition to my collection is a piece of original artwork from The Broken Spoke. This skillfully rendered piece is titled, "Apparition of demon cyclist that appeared in the sky over Gasket, Maine several times during the second week in November, 1911". Edward Gorey would often sign, but not date illustration art for his commercial work. When Mr. Gorey did date his work, it is an indication that the piece was created for one of his own publications. At first glance, the dates are cryptic until one figures out his dating system.
 Written on the back side of the art in the lower right hand corner, the day of the month is followed by a Roman Numeral to indicate the month, which is then followed by the year. There are two dates present to indicate the date the drawing was begun and the date it was completed. This piece was drawn on April 7, 1976. When Edward Gorey was working on a book, he would often complete two or three complicated drawings in a single day.

Edward Gorey had a special talent for creating atmosphere in his black and white illustrations through the skillful manipulation of thousands of fine lines. Against a turbulent sky the winged demon is seen riding a bicycle in the manner of Miss Gultch from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Barely visible in reproductions is the demon's eye, which is a single white dot the size of a pin prick. This delicate drawing is a master class in the art of crosshatching.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Edward Gorey, Movie Reviewer

Edward Gorey went to movies. A lot of movies. All kinds of movies. He both loved to watch and playfully disparage films and the people who made them. In what can only be called a stroke of genius, someone at the Soho Weekly News gave Mr. Gorey an official platform to write about the movies he was going to see. He penned a number of movie reviews in 1974 for the publication under the anagrammatic nom de plume Wardore Edgy.

Mr. Gorey threw himself into the task with gleeful abandon. He even created an illustration for the column wherein the "critic" is lounging in a movie theater watching a thriller, his sneaker clad feet extending into the next row and his oversized fur coat casually tossed over a nearby seat.

The reviews read like a one sided phone conversation at two in the morning with an over caffeinated dandy. Most reviewers temper criticism with praise. Mr. Edgy has no such scruples and goes for the throat nine out of ten times. The reviews are chatty, catty, and occasionally non linear in thought, so eager is Mr. Edgy to move on to his next victim. The results are hilarious, and could change the way you look at some revered filmmakers and movie stars. The reviews are also written with the affection of someone who truly loves movies and can't wait to finish typing so he can head out to a theater.

The scan of this review was sent to me by a fellow collector from New York. Copies of the Soho Weekly News can be difficult to locate as it was a small localized New York City publication. The first issue was published October 11, 1973 and the final issue was dated March 10 - 16, 1982.

The last paragraph of this review, which was published March 14, 1974, reads, "Since it first came out, I have thought Mel Brooks' The Producers was the most offensive movie I ever saw; I've now seen Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and I no longer think this."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Early Gorey Artwork Found

Twenty six drawings are put in a box and forgotten, only to be found decades later. 

What sounds like the beginning of a tale by Edward Gorey is actually the history of a collection of early works by the artist. In an added Goreyesque twist to the take, the art was found by a dealer who was pursuing works by another artist. To read the full article that appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star, go HERE.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Shrinking of Treehorn, The Movie

The Shrinking of Treehorn, the Edward Gorey illustrated 1971 book by Florence Parry Heide is under construction to appear as a feature length film by Imagine Entertainment. Director Ron Howard slated to take on the project. For more information go HERE.

Monday, June 17, 2019

TV Guide Soap Opera Artwork

The Illustration Art auction that took place last week Swann Auction Galleries had a wonderful selection of works by Edward Gorey. Lot #138 was a delightful full color painting that appered in the May 10, 1986 issue of TV Guide. From 1977 through 1993, Mr. Gorey created numerous pieces for the weekly television guide, almost all of them in color. As a general rule, Edward Gorey preferred to create drawings at the size they would be printed. Due to the small format of the magazine, all of the TV guide pieces were drawn/painted larger and were reduced in size to fit the page.

For his TV Guide pieces, Edward Gorey let his playful sense of humor come to the forefront. Mr. Gorey was an avid television viewer who thoroughly enjoyed sitcoms and soap operas. For this piece, the entranced viewer has the wide eyed blank stare of a person who has spent many hours following too much trauma/drama on the television set. The speech bubble is a parody of dialog and the acting abilities of the soap's actors. The wording has been pasted onto the surface of the artwork, indicating that Mr. Gorey's changed the text after completing the artwork. It would be interesting to compare the original wording with the final text.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Auction News

Swann Auction Galleries held their semi-annual Illustration Art Auction on Tuesday June 4, 2019 (to view the complete catalog, go to Over 200 lots ranging in subject matter from book & magazine illustration, advertising, and theatrical set & costume designs, guaranteed that this auction had something for everyone. Eight original illustrations by Edward Gorey were spaced throughout the sale. All the art by Mr. Gorey sold, with only one piece selling below the pre-auction estimate, and many going higher.

The eight pieces represented a microcosm of the Edward Gorey's career. Three early pieces included a Pin-Up drawing created as a teenager, a naturalistic rabbit drawing made in the early 1950's, and an unusual "pre-Earbrass"color piece showing two Russian gentlemen enjoying an Easter Tea. The characters in this piece are a transition from the figures decorating Mr. Gorey's wartime letters to friends and family to his fully realized protagonist Mr. Earbrass, from his first published book The Unstrung Harp.

Another departure from Edward Gorey's signature crosshatch style was a mid-60's watercolor illustration from The Recently Deflowered Girl, a piece that at first glance looks like a Charles Addams cartoon.

The 1980's had several nice examples, including a color piece created for TV Guide and an amusing Scottish Golfer who is checking his rule book regarding how to deal with a beastie residing in the hole on the green...does he get the putt or not?
The undisputed stars of the Gorey selections were two pieces created for The New Yorker Magazine and intended for use as cover art. Edward Gorey submitted three cover designs to the magazine in 1992, but only one Christmas-themed piece was used at the time. The other two designs languished in the files, unseen until after the artist's death in 2000. The first, Flappers and Topiary was published in the magazine as a full page tribute to Mr. Gorey just after his passing. This whimsical piece has a muted color pallet and delightful imagery.
Cat Fancy is a masterpiece of subdued color and intricate detail that reflects the time in which it was created. Layers upon layers of fabric, pillows, dust ruffles and duvets adorn an overstuffed bed whose inhabitants are a pair of reclining cats. This wonderful image finally adorned the cover of the magazine in December 2018.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Balkan Sobraine Cigarettes

Introduced in The Curse of the Blue Figurine, Professor Roderick Childermass, the irascible elderly neighbor and unlikely friend of young Johnny Dixon was one of John Bellairs' more colorful protagonists. The Professor threw fits, yelled, cursed, and was generally bad tempered, but beneath the crusty surface was a kindly man who felt his fits of temper deeply and apologized to his friends often. The Professor was also an accomplished baker, and anyone who reads Mr. Bellairs' Johnny Dixon books will soon be heading to the kitchen or the nearest bakery for some chocolate cake with thick fudgy icing.

Professor Childermass was also something of a chain smoker, especially in the earlier books in the series. As the series progresses, the Professor works hard to break the habit. What was the Professor's cigarette of choice? The tiny, black papered Balkan Sobranie Turkish Cigarette. This also appears to be the preferred cigarette of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. A fun collectible to display near your book collection is the illustrated vintage tin box that once housed the tiny cigarettes. These tins can be found in antiques shops and in on-line auctions.