'Religious seeds' from mankind's first-ever spacewalk grow to $31,070



2015-06-26 12:08:56

'Religious seeds' from mankind's first-ever spacewalk grow to $31,070

Jesus used mustard seeds in the Bible - and so did astronaut Ed White during the Gemini 4 mission...

Earlier this month, we looked at items of space exploration memorabilia that haven't only been to the Moon butalso have the Moon dust on them to prove it.

But collectors at Heritage Auction Galleries' recent November 17 blockbuster Signature Space Exploration sale took this concept one step further, with the sale of a lot that is unusual even by space memorabilia standards...

Emerging as the fourth-highest selling lot in the sale was an original Robert McCall paintingwhich depictsGemini 4 astronaut Ed White as he undertook mankind's first-ever spacewalk in 1965.

McCall's painting offers a detailed and colourful view of White during his landmark EVA (or 'extra-vehicular activity'). He is attached to the Gemini 4 capsulevia an umbilical cord, while the Moon - which mankind wouldn't reach for another four years - rises over the horizon.

McCall painted this as a study for a larger commissioned version for a bank in San Antonio, Texas, and gifted it to Ed White. The artist's signature ison the painting's lower right.

 Robert McCall's paintingof Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White

Youmay likely be familiar with McCall's work -if not from his muralof man's conquest of the Moon which occupies a whole wall at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, then through his artworks for Stanley Kubrick's classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey and LIFE magazine.

The painting is described as "breathtakingly beautiful" in Heritage's lot notes, and rightly so. Although these factors don't go all the way to explaining why the piece sold for $31,070 above its $18,000 estimate andwas the fourth-biggest lot in Heritage's sale...

A crucial deciding factor may have been 10 mustard seeds included in the lot, stored in a Fliteline case. They are no ordinary seeds, having been carried by White and flown in space during thelandmarkEVA depicted inMcCall's painting.

In fact, the seeds were also a poignant symbol of White's religious faith. In the Bible's New Testament, there are several examples of Jesus using the mustard seed as a model of the growth of the Kingdom of God, from an extremely tiny seed to the largest of all garden plants.

The seed also symbolises the amount of faith needed to accomplish much. Given the success of astronauts' space flown Bibles atpast space memorabilia auctions, it's safe to assumethat the lot's religious overtones contributed to its success at Heritage's sale.

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