Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Evil Communications - The Wretch

A recent addition to my Edward Gorey original art collection is Evil Communications. Created around 1950, the piece shows a downtrodden individual dressed in an oversized coat, wandering about trying to distribute the aforementioned leaflets at the price of three cents each. A large advertisment is affixed to the back of his coat. The figure floats off center on an appropriately cockeyed sheet of art paper.

The drawing is beautifully rendered by Edward Gorey in a combination of extremely fine line work combined with loose sketching, giving the drawing a visual freshness that is typical of much of his early works.

This is not the only appearance of the hapless peddler. In at least two other instances from the same time period, Edward Gorey placed this character into unfinished/unpublished works. In The Angel, The Automobilist and Eighteen Others (completed in the late 40's, early 50's but not published until 2020 by The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust through Pomegranate), the character is seen wandering a cobbled street in a dense fog and has been given the moniker, The Wretch. Since there are no visible leaflets in this vignette, it is possible that the Wretch is dispensing verbal communications rather than leaflets, albeit at a higher price.

Another unpublished work from the same time period shows the Wretch, leaflets in hand, wandering down a dreary street in what is clearly a polluted industrial area. This beautifully rendered pen & ink drawing is meticulously detailed and full of atmospheric lighting effects. It is a true masterwork showing Edward Gorey's command of his chosen artistic medium. This is one of two pieces of existing artwork from The Bootless Foot. It is possible that the drawing of the single figure against the white background was intended for this same book, possibly for use as a spot illustration or on the title page.

(Unpublished images courtesy The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust)

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Auction News - Swann Illustration Sale

Swann Auction Galleries held its semi-annual Illustration Art Auction on Thursday December 15. Always highly anticipated, the auction featured 250 lots of original artwork, including five pieces by Edward Gorey.

The pieces ranged from an early work titled Introduction that depicts the beginnings of a shipboard romance (estimate $3000 - $4000, final price w/buyer's premium $10,000) to the full color December 1992 Christmas-themed cover painting for The New Yorker Magazine (estimate $20,000 - $30,000, final price with buyer's premium $21,250.00).

The mover and shaker of the Gorey selections was a 1981postcard image of a man lounging with his dogs. Estimated at $3000 - $4000, the final price with buyer's premium was $17,500. 

This sale capped off the 2022 auction year in style for Swann, but it was also a bittersweet swan song for art specialist Christine Von Der Linn. At the beginning of the auction it was announced that Ms. Von Der Linn is leaving the gallery after 29 years as an auction specialist. Under her impeccable guidance over the past 10 years the illustration auctions have grown from an offshoot of the rare book department into highly anticipated semi-annual events. The depth and breadth of the illustration art offered by Swann has been skillfully curated and diligently researched by Ms. Von Der Linn. Her enthusiasm and continued commitment to excellence will be missed.