Original book illustrations at Sotheby’s

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2015-06-26 10:42:53

Original book illustrations at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s have announced the sale on December 12th of an unprecedented single-owner collection of original book illustrations. The collection includes over 100 ink and watercolour drawings, encompassing some of the world’s favourite books, and the finest literary illustrators and artists.

Included in the sale are eminent names from the world of book art, such as E. H. Shepard, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, William Heath Robinson and John Tenniel.

Renowned film director Michael Winner amassed this collection over many years. He recalls the moment his collection began, upon finding two paintings by Arthur Rackham in an old bookshop. He became enthralled, he was hooked, and began to collect all the great names of children’s illustration.

Sotheby’s Specialist Books and Manuscripts expert Dr Philip W. Errington commented: ‘the scope and quality of the pieces in the Michael Winner collection is breath-taking. To see the original artworks, so familiar from their reproductions in children’s books, is a great thrill and Sotheby’s is delighted to present collectors with the rare opportunity to acquire these well-known pieces’.

Highlights include E. H. Shepard’s first depiction of Winnie-the-Pooh with Christopher Robin, from A. A. Milne’s classic children’s book. The original pencil illustration, entitled: ‘here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin’. One of the best known illustrations of children’s literature, it is valued at £70,000-£100,000.

One of the most popular children’s authors of all time, Beatrix Potter, also illustrated her own books. Her soft pastel pictures of rabbits are unmistakable and much loved, and from the Winner collection comes ‘Gentleman rabbit with letter’, wearing a tail-coat, waistcoat, staff and hat, from circa 1890-93. It is expected to fetch £30,000-£50,000.

Danish artist Kay Nielsen is known for illustrating the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, and 12 initial ink drawings for these are on offer, including The Snow Queen and The Hardy Tin Soldier. Her illustration for 1925 edition of The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel, depicts the moment when the two children, lost and hungry in the forest, discover the witch’s gingerbread house – her trap for catching children. The 1924 drawing is valued at £20,000-£30,000.

Another Hans Christian Andersen illustrator, Arthur Rackham’s entire career is represented in the sale by 24 pieces, from contributions to Victorian periodicals, through to the early 1930s. Original drawings for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan are particularly notable.

Eighteen works by Edmund Dulac encompass his work for The Arabian Nights, Edgar Allen Poe’s poems, and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This last shows Prospero in Act 1, scene ii, and is expected to sell for £15,000-£20,000.

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