Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Edward Bradford

 

The world of Edward Gorey has lost a staunch and cherished friend. It is with much sadness that we say goodbye to Edward Bradford, a fellow collector, board member of The Edward Gorey House, and Mr. Gorey's official bibliographer who passed on December 26, 2020.

Over many decades, Edward Bradford amassed a staggering Gorey collection that included examples of almost everything produced by the prolific artist. Mr. Bradford was frequently seen attending auctions, book shops and fairs in New York City on his quest for rare (and ephemeral) Gorey items. Recently, the Library of Congress acquired this impressive collection and has plans to publish Mr. Bradford's long anticipated Edward Gorey bibliography in conjunction with Rutgers University. His small volume, F is for Fantods gives us a preview of the upcoming bibliography.

Edward Bradford was an invaluable resource to every Gorey collector and dealer he knew. Generous with his time and knowledge, Mr. Bradford excelled at helping others figure out Gorey conundrums.

Photo of Edward Bradford outside the 2010/11 Elegant Enigmas exhibition in Boston courtesy of Jonas Ploeger.


Friday, December 18, 2020

1979 Graham Gallery Christmas Exhibit - Artist R. O. Blechman


In 1979 Edward Gorey was invited by the Graham Gallery in New York City to be one of four artists included in a Christmastime group exhibition. The show opened on December 19, 1979  and was on display through January 5, 1980. Mr. Gorey had participated in two previous group shows at Graham (1974 & 1975) both of which he produced a quantity of new works specifically for the exhibitions. For this exhibition, Mr. Gorey sold preexisting works (notably, original artwork from his book The Broken Spoke) and included pieces that had not sold at the two previous Graham exhibitions.

I have been trying to locate a list for the 1975 and 1979 shows at Graham without success. Sadly, the gallery is no longer in operation and information relating to what was exhibited by any of the artists is elusive. I was therefore delighted when a piece of original artwork by R.O. Blechman from the 1979 Graham show appeared at Swann Auction Galleries this past summer and I was able to add it to my collection. The piece was consigned by the artist himself, who at this time is 90 years old. Included with the artwork is an announcement card from the show that was signed by all four artists, including Edward Gorey.

This delicately executed piece is related to the image Mr. Blechman created for the invitation. Fluttering in a vertical line are a series of ribbons entwined with holly, forming a line of dollar signs in a subtle comment on the holiday season. The artwork, drawn in red ink, is only 3/4" x 4" on a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of thin paper.

Oscar Robert Blechman (professionally known as R. O. Blechman) is an animation artist & director, illustrator, writer, and cartoonist whose works have been seen by millions of people and has had retrospectives in The Museum of Modern Art, among others. In 2018, Mr. Blechman was interviewed about his long career in this article: artofthespot.com/ro-blechman.html

 Here is a lovely Christmas greeting created in 1966 by Mr. Blechman for CBS.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Alison Lurie

 

Author Alison Lurie passed away on December 3, 2020 at the age of 94. Ms. Lurie was a close friend of Edward Gorey since they met at the Mandrake Bookshop in 1949. Ms. Lurie and her children inspired several of Mr. Gorey's books including The Beastly Baby and The Doubtful Guest, which is dedicated to her using her married name (Alison Bishop). 

In 2008, Alison Lurie discussed her relationship with Edward Gorey during an event at The Edward Gorey House. A transcript of her interesting and informative talk is reproduced here: https://www.goreyography.com/north/north.htm



Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Enormous Wood, An Unfinished Tale

 Over his long career, Edward Gorey began and then abandoned many book projects. Fortunately for fans and scholars of his work, Mr. Gorey did not discard these partially completed stories, but instead filed them away for possible completion at a later date. One such project is The Enormous Wood, a story Mr. Gorey was working on in 1963. The Enormous Wood is a tale about a sister and brother who are told to go out for a walk by their mother, who was feeling unwell. Unfortunately, the weather becomes threatening as the children head for the Enormous Wood, a place they had never been before. That is as far as the story progressed when it was set aside for possible future completion.

For The Enormous Wood, Edward Gorey left behind five pieces of artwork, three of which are finished drawings and two that remain incomplete. To date, a complete manuscript for the story has not been located but The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust is in the process of sorting and organizing the archives, so there is hope that it will turn up. (See Post Update Below)

The Enormous Wood has two unique features, the combination of which may have led to this tale remaining unfinished:

1) This story is told from a first person perspective. The signature style of Edward Gorey's writing is one of detachment and moral instruction. The actions and situations are described to the reader, but the stories are not narrated by a recognizable personality within the story itself. The reader can learn from the character's actions, but remains a detached bystander who is discouraged to have empathy with the protagonists. This makes the misfortunes of the characters humorous rather than disturbing since the reader is distanced from personal interaction with the parties involved. The Enormous Wood is a tale told by the girl, referring to herself as "I" and using "We" when describing her brother and herself.

2) The artwork for The Enormous Wood is unlike anything Edward Gorey created for his other books. The drawings for The Enormous Wood are created as two page spreads; with each turn of the page a new visual vista would open up and immediately strike the viewer with a sense of movement and danger. In a typical Gorey book the pace of the reader is reflective, each turn of the page revealing a single page vignette where the reader must pause before moving on. (Note: Mr. Gorey originally disliked the idea of the Amphigorey anthology because multiple pages from the books would be shown  at the same time, and not be experienced as originally intended.) 

These double page drawings are unique in that they have a sense of perspective that depicts the passage of time, and movement, showing the characters as they travel through the scene. If the artwork is viewed as individual pages, as per his usual style, the drawings become less threatening. Viewed as a single page drawing the "We left the house." side shows two children outside on a blustery rainy day. The text also makes the drawing less threatening.

The "We started walking..." side is far less ominous when viewed as a single image. When viewed together as a two page scene, the children are literally being overwhelmed by the storm which grows darker and larger from left to right as they become smaller. The children are shown at two distinct points in time within a single drawing. The darkness of the steps and lightness of the sky on the left represent the solid safety they are leaving while the upward tilt of the darkness on the right indicates the oppressive danger the children are heading towards. Viewed as single pages, the image(s) lose the sweeping movement of oncoming doom.

The other drawings from the book follow the same progression, with the right side plunging the children into further peril. The surviving fragments of this story are intriguing and it is disappointing that The Enormous Wood will never be completed. 

Thanks to the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust for the use of the image. 

Post Update: After posting this information I was contacted by actor/producer/photographer Kevin McDermott who appeared in the 1985 Edward Gorey production of Tinned Lettuce at NYU. He informed me that The Enormous Wood was used in the show with the new title The White Stone. As can be seen from my program, actors portrayed the wood itself in the play.

Carol Verburg, theatrical producer and author of two books on Edward Gorey's theatrical works on Cape Cod, also confirmed that The White Stone was performed as part of Useful Urns, Mr. Gorey's 1990 summer entertainment with the Provincetown Theater Company.

As presented on stage, it becomes obvious why Edward Gorey set the story aside in 1963 in book form. The complete tale is one of fratricide, and calmly told using the first person perspective it is a grisly affair. Revisiting the story as a theatrical piece 20 years later, Mr. Gorey added a narrator (dressed as a twin of the girl) and the tale was over in six minutes. I saw the production of Tinned Lettuce at NYU and honestly do not remember this story as standing out as being particularly shocking, so it did not have the disturbing quality (with me at any rate) that it would have had in book form.



Monday, November 2, 2020

Upcoming Book Auction

 


On November 13, Leslie Hindman Auctions in Chicago will auction the Edward Gorey collection of Thomas J. Barrett. The collection contains many limited edition and first edition books signed by Mr. Gorey. This auction represents the diligence of a true Gorey collector to acquire very fine examples over the span of years. Fewer auction houses are selling large Edward Gorey book collections these days, so this is an excellent opportunity to fill in gaps with beautiful books. There is also a selection of limited edition etchings included in the sale.

For more information on the sale and to bid, go here: https://hindmanauctions.com/auctions/800-fine-books-and-manuscripts?page=1&layout=grid&per=50




Saturday, October 17, 2020

Auction News - Gogol Cover Painting

 

At the end of August, Nate Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles sold two original watercolor paintings by Edward Gorey. The first piece was an unpublished work from the early 1950's (see my post from August 30, 2020). The second painting is the preliminary cover art sketch for Tales of Good and Evil by Nicolai V. Gogol, published by Anchor Books in 1957. This piece sold for over $16,000.00 (including buyer's premium).

At first glance, the original artwork (above) and the printed book cover (below) appear to be the same piece of artwork, but they are two versions of the same cover design. This initial confusion is a testament to how thorough and precise Edward Gorey could be when mapping out his ideas and then redrawing/painting them for the final piece.

In the original artwork, the watercolor washes are expressively painted with bold brush strokes. The line quality of the crosshatched areas appears conversational and casual, applied with a lightness that attests to the quick movement of the pen strokes. The typography is completely indicated and correct but has a loose, carefree appearance, some of it even looking like a scribble. Even though the scene depicted is menacing and the landscape treacherous, the original art has a freshness and openness that draws one into the piece.

The final artwork, as shown on the book cover, is more controlled than the sketch. All the elements are precisely intact, but the line work has been tightened up and the watercolor washes appear intentionally less expressive. Even though the final image is more technically coherent, it lacks some of the carefree freshness of the sketch. The lightness of strong horizontal path with the horse and sleigh gives the impression that the paperback book cover has been folded. The precision of the final version highlights the tension in the scene, making the playfulness of the woman more acute and her fate more disturbing. Hopefully, the Femme Fatale with her exposed flesh and open shouldered ball gown will soon be returning indoors. Everyone else in the scene is considerably muffled up against the elements.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Happy 12th Anniversary Goreyana!


On October 5, 2008 I began this blog about all things Edward Gorey as a way to reconnect with my collection and to share information and stories that I had picked up over the years.

The Gotham Book Mart had closed in 2007 and with that closing, a major source of information about Edward Gorey and his works had ceased to exist. GBM had never embraced the internet and it was difficult to find accurate information about his works, so I felt there was an informational void that I could possibly help fill.

Over the past 12 years, I have been continually delighted and honored by the number of people who have written to tell me that they found helpful information in my blog posts. 

Thank you for checking out my blog posts and offering your insights and comments. I look forward to the beginning of year 13 of Goreyana and to celebrating the life and works of Edward Gorey.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Auction News: The John Dressler-Carollo Auction

 

After several years of Edward Gorey's original works realizing strong prices and setting new sales records, the Nate Sanders Auctions sale (via Live Auctioneers) on Wednesday September 30, 2020 ended with just one original drawing selling. The auction showcased thirteen pieces of exciting artwork from collector John A. Dressler-Carollo's collection. The collection ranged from mid 1950's Anchor paperback covers to the title page illustration for The New York Times Quiz Book from 1986.

Many pieces received bids but only one, the frontispiece illustration from John Bellair's The Dark Secret of Weatherend met its reserve price, ultimately selling for $5120.00 (including buyers premium). Artwork from the popular Bellairs' series rarely become available and this piece had multiple bids.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Diana Rigg

 

 

Famed actress Dame Diana Rigg passed away on September 10, 2020 at the age of 82. Ms. Riggs hosted the popular weekly PBS television series Mystery from 1989 to 2003, following the departure of the ailing Vincent Price. Each introduction was filmed in a setting designed by Edward Gorey. Several of her introductions and conclusions can be found on YouTube such as the one here:





Sunday, August 30, 2020

Two Gentlemen in a Library

 

Two exciting pieces of original artwork by Edward Gorey recently appeared at auction. The first piece was created in the early 1950's and is part of a series of drawings created by Mr. Gorey the scope of which has remained largely unknown until recently. An archive of 26 related drawings from this series was discussed in my blog post here: https://goreyana.blogspot.com/2019/07/early-gorey-artwork-found.html. (The second piece from the auction will be discussed in an upcoming post.)

In this piece, two gentlemen are shown in discussion within a library where one of the men is in a colorful robe and slippers is settled on a chaise lounge reading a book with refreshments near at hand as if he is spending the day relaxing at a spa. The second gentleman is dressed in a fur trimmed greatcoat and is holding a small idol. He has stopped by the library to briefly discuss something with the reclining man. Even more unusual than the setting are the curling blue tattoos covering the second man's head and exposed hands. The tattoos mimic the pattern on the velvet pillow and the design of the carpet. This piece has a beautifully balanced composition and a masterful use of color.

I first saw this piece at the "new" Gotham Book Mart sometime between 2004 and 2006 when it was offered to me by Andreas Brown. Unfortunately, at the time I was unable to add this piece to my collection. Mr. Brown was unsure where to place this piece in Edward Gorey's artistic timeline and he told me it was an early drawing that Mr. Gorey watercolored "for fun" in the 1960's. With the recent discovery of numerous related pieces in private collections and within the Gorey Archive, research by various people (including Mr. Brown before his passing) is revealing the correct history of this piece and Mr. Gorey's early works.

Beginning in the late 1940's, Edward Gorey created a series of wildly extravagant pen & ink and watercolor pieces. Each of these works featured gentlemen who have collectively become know as "Earbrass" in reference to the main character in Mr. Gorey's first published work, The Unstrung Harp (Duell, Sloane and Pierce/Little, Brown and Company, 1953). Viewed as a suite of drawings, it is obvious that Mr. Gorey was stretching his artist muscles, honing his technique and refining how he would create images. His figure changes in subtle ways, as does his technique, growing more confident until the publication of The Unstrung Harp. With its solid composition, fully formed figures and confident use of color, Two Gentlemen in a Library would have been completed between 1950 and 1953.

While there are many black and white drawings from this time period, Edward Gorey boldly experimented with color and subject matter in these pieces.  The Russian Tea (this piece was sold at Swann in 2019) has muted tones of brown, blue, green and purple, while Orange Sky (a piece in the Gorey Archives that was featured on Instagram and Facebook) is almost blinding in it choice of saturated color. It should be noted that these works were not titled by Mr. Gorey as they were created as stand alone pieces and were not part of a narrative storyline. Each piece stands alone amongst its siblings and each piece suggests an intriguing self contained narrative.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Plunger Artwork

 

The recent Illustration Art auction at Swann Auction Galleries offered six lots of original artwork by Edward Gorey. The lots represented three distinct drawing styles practiced by Mr. Gorey - the classic finely detailed pen & ink drawing, a loose watercolor painting style, and Mr. Gorey's "cartoon" style.

Edward Gorey often worked in the cartoon style for pieces that would appear in magazines, poster designs, and newspapers. The look is bold and less detailed than his traditional drawing style for a reason - these images would be printed smaller or considerably larger than the artwork itself and for the image to "read" properly the details are simplified. The cartoon style often includes shots of bright watercolor details that would make the image "pop" on the page.

Two pieces included in the sale were (most likely) created for The Harvard Review. Each drawing shows formally attired people with brightly colored plungers presumably covering holes in the floor and walls. The first drawing shows a man and a woman working to plug up holes in a confined space, while in the second two couples are being menaced by giant snakes as they work. The attire and look of the people in both drawings calls to mind 1960's British "mod" fashions which Edward Gorey often used to costume people in his magazine illustrations. The first, smaller vertical drawing is now in my personal collection.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Habitions Mental Illness



One of the more "original" pieces of original artwork by Edward Gorey included in the July 16, 2020 Illustration Art Auction at Swann Galleries was Habitions Mental Illness. This piece is something of a humorous enigma. The title, written in pencil across the bottom of the drawing by someone other than Mr. Gorey is presumably correct, but no publication has yet been discovered. In the upper right hand corner, Andreas Brown's distinctive handwriting says, "UNPUBLISHED?", but this was probably a guess on the part of Mr. Brown.

Most likely, this piece was done for a magazine article. The denotation "Right" suggests that it is possibly one half of a pair of drawings or that there was a title to the left on a facing page. The artwork has the notation, "For Aaron Fine" and is signed in ink. The figures and signature are stylistically consistent with pieces drawn in the late 1960's and 70's. There is a gentle matte line above and below the image which indicates that the piece was framed and displayed for a time in a home or office and exposed to sunlight in the frame.


Mr. Gorey often gifted or sold drawings to professional colleagues (agents, editors, publishers, art directors, etc.), friends, or fans who showed an appreciation for his efforts. During the 90's there was heightened interest from collectors in obtaining original artwork, and The Gotham Book Mart was the place where a knowledgeable collector began their search. Gotham bought and sold collections and individual pieces of original artwork and it can be presumed that Mr. Fine or his estate sold the drawing to Gotham in 1998 and that Andreas Brown then sold the piece to a collector. 


Each person depicted in this piece is in a state of physical and mental distress. The physical maladies are best described as quirky. The woman holding the hatchet has two right hands! Given the overall subject of this piece, this may have been intentional, but one has to admit it is odd.


A favorite, slightly racy member of the party is the woman in the upper left corner who is holding what appears to be a breast in each hand. Are her breasts detachable or is she considering enhancement surgery? 

Mr. Gorey has painted in the background using a brush and black ink instead of cross hatching the entire drawing. In the photo of the artwork the brush strokes are obvious. When the image was printed, the black would solidify. This piece is a prime example of how a piece will change when printed, and how Mr. Gorey understood exactly how the printed image would turn out.










Thursday, July 16, 2020

Auction News - A New Record Price


A new record price was set at auction today for a piece of original artwork by Edward Gorey at Swann Auction Galleries. Lot 160 featured a matched pair of drawings framed together that were created as part of the theatrical environment for Amphigorey, A Musicale. The drawings, drawn at a 1/2" = 1' scale were reproduced as cutout "theatrical boxes" with life sized figures and hung on either side of the stage at the Perry Street Theater. The effect when entering the theater was that there were already well heeled audience members awaiting the start of the production.
This exciting pair of drawings was given to actor/producer Kevin McDermott by Mr. Gorey when he was fundraising for the production of Off Broadway production of The Gorey Details. The drawings have been in a private collection since 1999/2000. Estimated at $4000.00 to $6000.00, the final auction sale price (including buyer's premium) was $22,500.00. The previous auction record of $18,750.00 for a work by Edward Gorey was also achieved at Swann in 2017 (see my post https://goreyana.blogspot.com/2017/03/auction-news_23.html).


Monday, July 13, 2020

Puzzled?


Jigsaw puzzles continue to be a favorite pandemic pastime as everyone is encouraged to spend more time sheltered in place. For the Goreyphile, a picture puzzle with an intricate image by Edward Gorey is a great way to spend some time sharpening the eye and relaxing.

My collection of Gorey puzzles includes all but one of the puzzles that have been commercially available - the 100 piece Bibliophile With Cats puzzle. The other puzzles include a vintage Dracula Poster puzzle and the 8 puzzles published by Pomegranate that range from 300 to 1000 pieces. The vintage Dracula is only available on the secondary market, but the other puzzles can be ordered from The Edward Gorey House Store https://goreystore.com  or from other online sources.

The difficulty level of these puzzles also varies greatly both with the piece count and image. Here is how I rate the level of challenge:

Easy
Bibliophile With Cats 100 pieces
Seventeen Cats 300 pieces
Dancing Cats 300 pieces
Dracula (vintage) 500 pieces

Challenging
Edward Gorey's Book Covers 1000 pieces
Gorey Theater 1000 pieces
Edward Gorey An Exhibition (God in Jammies) 1000 pieces

Difficult
Dracula in Dr. Seward's Library 500 pieces
Frawgge Mfg Co 1000 pieces

Drive You To Distraction
Cat Fancy 1000 piece - Honestly, I had to give up and put it away. Perhaps I will try it again some day.





Monday, July 6, 2020

Consuelo Joerns 1925 - 2020


Consuelo Joerns has passed at the age of 94. Ms. Joerns was Edward Gorey's close lifelong friend since they attended the Frances W. Parker School together. Her obituary is here: https://www.stronghancock.com/obituary/Consuelo-Joerns?fbclid=IwAR1vUBhNibu2bOLMdLzkxXN0GI-mMmWI0o05aU5z1VSa9roQoX60yrqJdIM


Monday, June 29, 2020

Button Storage


As we spend more time at home arranging and rearranging our collections, we occasionally run into problematic items like the pinback buttons from Edward Gorey's theatrical entertainments. After years of residing in a silver loving cup trophy, my husband chose an appropriately Goreyesque fabric and sewed me a bell pull to display the buttons. It still needs an oversized tassel on the end, but they are out of the trophy on display.



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Places To Go, Places To Visit



What to do when in visiting Yarmouth Port? Visit the Edward Gorey House and take in Mr. Gorey's favorite book store while you are there. View the local news program spot on the house HERE


Friday, June 5, 2020

Summer


The beach may be calling, but remember to keep your distance...and enjoy the cake.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Gorey House Membership Premium


The Edward Gorey House has an exciting premium for 2020 House memberships (new or renewal) and/or donations of $100.00 or more. Due to the uncertainty of when the current exhibition will be open to visitors, the House has produced a 24 page full color booklet/brochure for the exhibition. The full color booklet features artwork from the exhibition on every page along with an informative and lengthy essay discussing the works being shown.

This brochure is certain to be a future collectible, so it would be best to get it new by getting a membership or making a donation to the house. Memberships to the House can be completed here: https://goreystore.com/pages/edward-gorey-house-membership?utm_source=fromgorey&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=goreysite-membership-top



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

20 Years Ago


Edward Gorey passed from this dimension to the next on Saturday April 15, 2000. It is hard to believe that twenty years have passed since he died. I was in New York City for my annual visit to The Gotham Book Mart and the New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the time. I made several stops at Gotham during this visit and the mood at the store was oddly subdued, for Mr. Gorey had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital that Wednesday. I was unaware of this fact and was happily searching for items to add to my collection.

I am touched by Edward Gorey's works daily. Mr. Gorey's artwork decorates my home and is present in virtually every room, inspiring me to strive for perfection with a sense of quirky humor in all that I do. I am supremely grateful to him for sharing his unique perspective and vision with all of us.


Monday, April 13, 2020

2020 Edward Gorey House Exhibition



The Edward Gorey house is all dressed up and ready to welcome visitors to view the 2020 exhibition He Wrote It All Down Zealously...Unfortunately, the doors remain locked until further notice.

Edward Gorey was a man who compulsively made lists. Lists helped him organize his thoughts and visualize the relationships of words. Many of his books, including all of his alphabets, are basically illustrated lists. Gorey's lists fill countless notebooks and reams of papers, and since he was a man who rarely discarded anything, this fabulous detritus provides insight into the work behind his deceptively simple texts.

One way to experience the 2020 Gorey House exhibition is to visit the website and read curator Gregory Hischak's in depth essay on Gorey's obsession with making lists - edwardgoreyhouse.org/blogs/news/edward-goreys-interesting-lists

Another important way to help The House survive this challenging time is to purchase a membership or renew your membership. Membership information can be found here - goreystore.com/pages/edward-gorey-house-membership


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Gorey in Japan


Edward Gorey is very popular in Japan. In 2018 and 2019, the Elegant Enigmas exhibition of original artwork and books traveled to ten different museum venues  and had more than 100,000 visitors. Many of Mr. Gorey's books have been translated into Japanese. Here is an enjoyable video with a very enthusiastic presenter introducing Gorey's works on his YouTube channel. The link to the video:  https://youtu.be/lifRVAzSXMA




Thursday, March 26, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Obituary for Andreas Brown



Here is the New York Times obituary for Andreas Brown, owner of the now defunct Gotham Book Mart and promoter of the works of Edward Gorey.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/books/andreas-brown-dead.html?fbclid=IwAR2ZM3RxyTstDGdjFWIdqBnRRVun2t5YlUs01JuMWhpjjt1LAzRGDyY8ifQ

The above photo of Andy is from a gallery lecture on Gorey's works at Loyola University in 2014.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Andreas Brown



Andreas Brown, longtime owner of the Gotham Book Mart (GBM) in New York City, has passed away. Mr. Brown took over ownership of the GBM in 1967 and ran the store until its closing in 2007. In the 1960's Mr. Brown embraced the works of Edward Gorey, building and promoting Mr. Gorey's career over the decades. Mr. Brown eventually promoted the works of Edward Gorey to the extent that GBM became ground zero for all things Gorey and Andreas Brown became the leading authority on his works. Until recent health issues led to his retirement, Mr. Brown was co-trustee of The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

The above self portrait shows Andreas Brown in a boat christened the H.M.S.  G.B.M.  The drawing is a playful reference to  GBM's motto "Wise Men Fish Here".


Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others


The most recent publication by Edward Gorey is also one of his earliest creations. Published almost 70 years after it was created (and 20 years after the death of Mr. Gorey), The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others (published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc. 2020) is a beautifully presented hardcover book that will delight fans of Mr. Gorey. This book is available from Pomegranate Publications (https://www.pomegranate.com/a294.html) and can also be ordered from Amazon.

Discovered in Edward Gorey's archives after his death in 2000, The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others was created in the very early 1950's but was never published. The volume consists of twenty drawings of a man engaging in various activities and situations. While the drawings are titled, the book lacks a traditional text or story line, which may be why it was shelved. Mr. Gorey did not yet have a reputation and presenting a small collection of drawings to a publisher would most likely have been a hard sell from an unknown author/illustrator.

The man pictured throughout the book is a doppelganger for Mr. Earbrass, the main character from Edward Gorey's first published work, The Unstrung Harp (1953). Each drawing has a hand written title indicating that the man pictured is actually separate gentlemen: The Artist, The Automobilist, The Balloonist, etc. Another way to view the drawings is that each man is actually Mr. Earbrass himself, indulging in various activities and gathering experiences so he can write his great novel, The Unstrung Harp.
Two drawings of particular interest are The Bather and 1900 Coupe (the back cover of the book). In these two drawings, we can see themes that will be employed by Edward Gorey in almost every subsequent book he published. 1900 Coupe is the final illustration of the suite and appears as the back cover. In the lower right hand corner of the drawing, we see an E.G. monogram signature. On the final drawing of every book, Edward Gorey signed his initial signature denoting the end of the tale (sometimes it was difficult to tell if the story had ended).
In the drawing titled The Bather, we find our gentleman in old fashioned swimwear and a fur coat on the beach. Washing up at his feet is a bottle with a calling card inside. Calling cards would appear in one drawing within almost every work by Edward Gorey. In every other book, the calling card is blank. Written on this card is p.p.c. - pour prendre conge, meaning to take leave, or to take vacation. In Victorian times, a calling card (or visiting card) of this sort would be left with friends before embarking on a long voyage or journey. Presumably, the voyage of the owner of the card did not end as expected.