Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve with Peter Arno

Over the years, cartoonist Peter Arno had quite a run with his New Yorker magazine covers welcoming in the New Year with humor. The 1940 cover was published in January and is probably not, strictly speaking, a New Year's cover, although I like to think it is.
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 28, 1929
Image added January 1, 2014

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, January 6, 1940
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, January 1, 1944

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 29, 1951

January 1, 2014 Update:  The original artwork for the 1951 monk cover is in the collection of Harry's Bar, located in the Mayfair district of London. It can be seen at the lower left of the photograph.

Note:  My previous seasonal post on Peter Arno can be found here.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Verdura Dragon Brooch

Fulco di Verdura apparently spared no expense in designing this dramatic brooch in the shape of a Chinese dragon. I would guess it's quite rare. Five years ago it was sold at Christie's for approximately three times its high estimate.

The dragon's body set with a cabochon turquoise and circular-cut yellow diamonds, with a fancy-cut sapphire mane and pavé-set diamond legs and head, enhanced by cabochon ruby eyes and a carved coral tongue, mounted in 18k gold and platinum, in a Verdura pale blue suede case
Signed Verdura 
Price Realized
  • Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.
    $15,000 - $20,000

Sale Information

Sale 1675 Lot 196 Important Jewels 8 June 2006
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Special Notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Pre-Lot Text
Patricia Corbett, Verdura: The life and work of a master jeweler, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2002, page 139 


Here is a 1948 Verdura magazine ad featuring a different--more playful and mythical, rather than oriental--dragon design which retailed for $4,000:
Advertisement from 1948 for a Verdura Mythical Dragon Brooch, $4,000


A yellow and white diamond, ruby and black enamel dragon brooch by Verdura.
Image added April 13, 2013


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Booked for a Knight

I'm always wary when something is described as being an original book illustration, yet the name of the book isn't mentioned. A well-known artist such as Hilary Knight, the celebrated illustrator of the Eloise books, should have book print runs in the many thousands, so exactly how obscure can the illustrated book containing this image be? Or is this rather an intended book illustration that, for whatever reason, was never to be published? This lot was offered at Illustration House in their December 10 sale.

Δ Lot 67
Hilary Knight

Mother reading to children; child winking.

Book illustration;
Watercolor and pencils, 10 x 16.5" in two scenes, signed lower left

Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000

Condition - Fine overall: archivally matted and framed.

December 30, 2011 Update:   Reader Kellie Strøm writes in today's comments section that Hilary Knight has a predilection for archway compositions on his book covers. He presents these two examples:
Hilary Knight, The Jeremy Mouse Book, 1969

Hilary Knight, The Twelve Days of Christmas, 1981

I find this a persuasive argument that this book illustration was, in all likelihood, intended as a book cover. That would make the idyllic drawing of the swing the book's front cover and the impish lone winking child the back cover.

Note:  Hilary Knight's poster featuring Eloise for New York is Book Country is in my post here.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Party Cat" by Ronald Searle

This languorous "Party Cat" by Ronald Searle captures the seasonal atmosphere of festivity and overindulgence. Although the lot description based on Mr. Searle's own pencil inscription states that this original artwork was published in The New Yorker, what we have before us is actually a slightly looser variant of the published drawing.

Ronald Searle, Party Cat, 1989

Ronald William Fordham Searle (b.1920)

'Party cat'


Price Realized 

  • £3,600
  • ($6,530)
  • Price includes buyer's premium
    £800 - £1,200
  • ($1,451 - $2,177)

Sale Information

Sale 5595 Lot 318
29 June 2005
London, South Kensington

Lot Description

Ronald William Fordham Searle (b.1920)
'Party cat'
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle/1989' (lower right) and inscribed 'Party Cat/New Yorker 28 Dec 1992' (lower left)
pen and black ink, crayon, watercolour and bodycolour, unframed
11¾ x 8¼ in. (29.8 x 21 cm.) 

Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
This lot is subject to storage and collection charges. **For Furniture and Decorative Objects, storage charges commence 7 days from sale. Please contact department for further details.**
The New Yorker Magazine, 28 December, 1992 issue. 

Just so you never make the same mistake Searle and Christie's did, here's the true published version, wreath and all:
Ronald Searle, Party Animal,
The New Yorker, December 28, 1992

Note:  My previous post on Ronald Searle is hereAll my Searle posts are really essential so don't go thinking you can just skip them or anything.

Matt Jones has this and more of Searle's New Yorker work here.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 1980 & 2011

The new screen adaptation of John le Carré's 1974 novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is now playing in theaters. George Smiley, once played on television by the superb Alec Guinness, is now played on film by another fine character actor, Gary Oldman. In the intervening three decades, we've truly entered the digital age, and the means of producing much promotional artwork has changed radically.

I really like the quiet intrigue of the 1980 television campaign by Richard Hess, but I suppose Hollywood doesn't think such a thoughtful, staid approach can sell movie tickets today. The current film's posters are attention-grabbers, using the digitally-manipulated photographs to suggest a variety of moods, the principle poster showing a thrilling intensity. Both approaches are valid, but you would be forgiven if you didn't recognize that both productions sprang from the same book.
Richard Hess, Alec Guinness as George Smiley, The New Yorker, September 29, 1980

Gary Oldman as George Smiley, 2011

Colin Firth, 2011. I've shown this poster in larger dimensions to give an idea of the detail. Note that there are a few key words scattered among the digits.
Tom Hardy, 2011

Gary Oldman, 2011

Benedict Cumberbatch, 2011

Mark Strong, 2011

Svetlana Khodchenkova, 2011
Image added November 24, 2012

[Spoiler Alert!]
Paul Smith's 2011 limited edition print, one of four created concurrent with the recent theatrical release, reprises Richard Hess's visual chessboard theme from 1980, a theme taken directly from the novel.

MI6 is known as "The Circus"

The 1979 trailer:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

 (1979) Trailer

Video added June 28, 2012

And the trailer from 2011:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - 

2011 Official Trailer [HD]

Video added June 28, 2012

Note:  I have some lighter poster fare for you here.


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Crewel Trick

From Illustration House's December 10 sale comes the original book cover art for The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. The artists are Leo and Diane Dillon and the medium is crewel. But is that all? Or is there some kind of overpainting here? The detail is just superb.

Lot 36Leo & Diane Dillonb.1933x
xFamily members in contemplation amid wedding.x
xBook cover: Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers; Publisher: (Time-Life Books), 1965;
Crewel, 28.5 x 32.5", signed lower left
xEstimate: $4,000 - 6,000x
Literature - The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon, ed. by Byron Preiss (Ballantine Books, 1981)
xCondition - Very good overall: crop marks are indicated with bits of thread; framed in narrow grey wood frame.x

Note: The Dillons created a very different sort of image for their New York is Book Country poster. See it here.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

...Talk About Being Good!

Coca-Cola began featuring Santa Claus in its advertising in the 1920's, with the intention of showing that Coke could be enjoyed in the winter as well as in the summertime. In 1931, Haddon Sundblom began painting the annual Santa campaign. His images are captivating to this day. ...Talk about being good!

Haddon Sundblom, Coca-Cola ad, The New Yorker, December 15, 1951
Haddon Sundblom, Original 1951 artwork, Coca-Cola Company Archives


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Grinch by Dr. Seuss

This beautiful Dr. Seuss drawing of the Grinch sold in 2008 for a strong price despite being defaced with the signature of actor Jim Carrey who played the Grinch in the 2000 movie. Alternatively one could ask, heaven forfend, is the intrusive Jim Carrey signature actually the reason for the lofty price?

Dr. Seuss, The Grinch

Price Realized

  • £5,625
  • ($8,263)
  • Price includes buyer's premium
    £1,000 - £1,500
  • ($1,800 - $2,600)

Sale Information

Sale 5425 
Pop Culture: Entertainment Memorabilia 
4 December 2008
London, South Kensington

Lot Description

Dr. Seuss The Grinch
A sketch of the Grinch by Dr. Seuss, signed and inscribed in green and black ink Best Wishes from the Grinch and Dr. Seuss, dedicated by Dr. Seuss For the men of the 101st Air Command, Fort Benning, Geo., additionally signed and inscribed in red felt pen Jim Carrey "Grinch" [Jim Carrey starred as the Grinch in the 2000 Imagine Entertainment's film How The Grinch Stole Christmas] -- 13¾x11in. (35x28cm.) 

Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
Dr. Seuss, The Grinch