Thursday, December 6, 2018
Swann Auction Galleries in New York City held its semi-annual Illustration Auction featuring over 284 lots of original artwork. Included in the sale were four delightful pieces by Edward Gorey.
The first piece offered was a whimsical color piece showing two pigs eating truffles and drinking champagne under a sunny yellow umbrella in the company of a dapper gentleman. None of the participants are in the least bothered that they are reposing in squishy mud. This delightful piece realized a very respectable price as the hammer fell.
The next two pieces were originally created for The Dream World of Dion McGregor. This unusual book chronicles, as the title suggests, the dreams of the author who not only has some fantastic nocturnal happenings in his head, but also narrated the dreams aloud as he slept. The dreams were recorded, transcribed, and masterfully illustrated by Edward Gorey. The first piece, TYN (The Thumb Your Nose club) failed to sell. The second piece titled Peony (see the photo at the top of this post) inspired spirited bidding and topped its high estimate. This microcosm of a drawing - it is only 1.5" x 2.5" - is a miniature Gorey masterpiece. Simply executed, the expressions and attitudes of the three children speak volumes.
The final piece, Common Good Wrestles Bitter Grudge and Purple Rage, is an unusual Gorey illustration from Alvin Steadfast and Vernacular Island from 1965. The final sale price fell precisely in the center of its estimate.
The Spring and early Winter illustration auctions at Swann offer fantastic opportunities to acquire one of a kind works by major and less well known illustrators. The selection of works by Edward Gorey at the sales remains exemplary.