Monday, October 31, 2011

A Holiday Made for Charles Addams

Charles Addams celebrates his favorite holiday: 

Charles Addams, The New Yorker, November 3, 1986

"I'm sorry, sonny.  We've run out of candy."

Note:  My previous post on Charles Addams is here.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Lonesome Ghosts" (1937)

What's wrong with this picture, or rather this cel, which was sold at Christie's South Kensington back in 2000? For the answer, see below.

Lot Description
Walt Disney Studios 
Lonesome Ghosts, 1937
Mickey hunts for ghosts with a shotgun, gouache on trimmed celluloid, applied to full celluloid, applied to a colour xerox background, unframed
Image -- 4.1/8x4in. (10.5x10.2cm.)
Sight -- 9½x13½in. (24x34.3cm.)

Price Realized 

  • £2,233
  • Estimate
    £2,000 - £2,500
  • ($3,016 - $3,770)
Sale Information
Sale 8779 
Animation Art, Contemporary Toys and Souvenirs 
5 June 2000
London, South Kensington
This celluloid from Walt Disney's classic short "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937) shows Mickey Mouse in his ghost-hunting role. He shared the business with Donald Duck and Goofy. It's a nice image, but it doesn't make any sense to show him in front of his place of business when he should be trying to hunt ghosts in a haunted house. In other words, the Xerox color background is from the right short but the wrong scene. Here's the correct setting:

Image added December 25, 2011

Walt Disney's "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937)
Video modified August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013 Update:  So here is how this lot was assembled:
Ajax Ghost Exterminators establishing shot from Walt Disney's "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937), Video Still 1:18
Image added August 5, 2013
The present lot consists a Xerox background from the shot above and a cel of Mickey from the frame below.
Mickey Mouse hunting ghosts in Walt Disney's "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937), Video Still 3:20
Image added August 5, 2013

Note:  My last Disney post is here, sort of.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Morticia Addams in the Times

Here's an unusual drawing by Charles Addams dating from 1969. It's a rendering in marker of  Morticia on a photostat of the front page of the New York Times. It's an oddity, but a rather becoming one. The original artwork is available from Taraba Illustration Art, LLC.

Artist: Charles Addams (1912-1988)
Description: Standing Morticia.
Caption: none
Publication information: Presentation or souvenir drawing, so not published
Medium: Marker on photostatic reproduction of New York Times page
Size: 11.5 x 7.75” (mat opening 14 x 10.5”)
Signature: signed and dated lower right. Inscribed: “For Kay and Bill”
Condition: Very good though other inscriptions on the sheet have faded, matted and framed.
Comment: First things first... This is as seductive a Morticia as you'll ever see... it's her stance, the facial expression and the execution that elevate this beyond many of the souvenir drawings that Addams did for fans, acquaintances and the like. That said, it's a bit of an odd piece and as best as I can reconstruct the circumstances... I figure that it's most likely something that was given as a gift to someone working at The Times, perhaps a full-sized photostat of the newspaper page was made for an employee on the date of their retirement. That would provide an explanation for the other signatures that have been trimmed... Addams' drawing was what the original recipient wanted to frame and put on the wall; other sentiments became rather beside the point. Now it can go on your wall. 

March 11, 2012 Update:  The price has been reduced to $2,100.

October 18, 2012 Update: The price has been reduced to $1,875.

Note:  My previous post on Morticia Addams is here.


Friday, October 28, 2011

A Clutch of Vampires Cover by Edward Gorey

This original pen and ink drawing by Edward Gorey was intended as a book cover illustration for Raymond T. McNally's anthology A Clutch of Vampires. It was used instead as an interior illustration. The artwork features five gracefully floating vampires and Gorey's masterly hatching technique.

EDWARD GOREY (American 1925 - 2000)
A Clutch of Vampires, circa 1973
Ink on paper
8.25 x 5.25 in.
Not signed
Sold for:
$5,676.25 (includes BP )

Bid Source: Live: eBay

Auction Ended On:Oct 15, 2008
Item Activity:
1 Internet/mail/phone bidders
980 page views
This piece, published as an illustration on page 178 of the anthology, A Clutch of Vampires: These Being Among the Best from History and Literature, by Raymond T. McNally, was originally intended for use on the cover. The piece was published in 1974 by the New York Graphic Society. From the Frank Collection.
Gorey, Edward St. John:. American illustrator and author, 1925-2000
Condition Report*:
This piece has been framed to an overall size of 16" x 13", and the art is in Excellent condition.

The inspiring Goreyana blog:

My earlier post on New York is Book Country poster art includes a Gorey poster:  


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Morticia Addams

Off the market for four years, this original 1946 drawing of Morticia with a pet alligator was inscribed by Charles Addams to Jim Logan. It sold this past weekend for $3,107, up a bit from its 2007 price of $2,629. Both sales were at Heritage Auctions. The sheet was taken by the recipient, animator and cartoonist Jim Logan, and glued into a book published 50 years after the drawing was made. Some things I will never understand.

Back in 2007, you could bid at Heritage Auctions and many other auction houses through your eBay account. It was a great convenience and partially relieved you, the buyer, from having to register separately at every auction house that had an item you wanted, although often you still had to qualify to bid, which was nearly the same thing. You first would agree that eBay could share its information on your account with the auction house, and the auction house would determine whether you had to jump through any further hoops. The 2007 buyer for this lot bid through eBay, something that is no longer possible. EBay walked away from it's Live Auctions platform at the end of 2008, a business move that I still shake my head at. I'm not even sure why they did this, although I believe coordinating the Live Auctions platform with various live auctions around the globe must have been a daunting challenge.

CHARLES ADDAMS (American 1912 - 1988)
Morticia Addams, 1946, original cartoon illustration
Ink on paper
7-1/2 x 6in.
Signed lower right
Inscription: "For Jim Logan, G. I., with best wishes"

Sold for:$2,629.00 (includes BP )

Bid Source: Live: eBay

Auction Ended On:Dec 12, 2007

Sold for:$3,107.00 (includes BP )

Bid Source:
Auction Ended On:Oct 22, 2011
Item Activity:7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
360 page views
Animator and cartoonist Jim Logan later glued this early illustration of Morticia Addams to the inside front board of the hard cover book, The World of Chas Addams, Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Provenance: From the Jim Logan Collection

Addams, Charles Samuel:. American cartoonist, 1912-1988
Condition Report*:
The illustration has been glued to the inside board of a book; otherwise, it is in Excellent condition.

Note:  Don't miss Wednesday's Addams post about Wednesday here.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Addams Promoting Decorators Walk

Cartoons depicting the Addams Family were banned from The New Yorker magazine with the advent of the commercial television series. Charles Addams was still free to use his most famous creations in advertising. Here Wednesday Addams poses with a doll house for a promotion of Decorators Walk that appeared in Interior Design magazine in February 1983. The original artwork was sold at Heritage in February 2010.

CHARLES ADDAMS (American, 1912-1988)
Wednesday Addams, Interior Design magazine, Decorators Walk ad illustration, February 1983
Ink and watercolor on paper
11.25 in. diameter
Signed lower left
A tear sheet of the ad is included with this lot.

Sold for:$3,585.00 (includes BP )

Bid Source: Mail/Fax

Auction Ended On:Feb 18, 2010
Item Activity:5 Internet/mail/phone bidders
901 page views

Addams, Charles Samuel. American cartoonist, 1912-1988
Condition Report*:
Appears to be glue residue upper left quadrant.Otherwise this lot is in good condition with only normal wear commensurate with age. Not examined outside of frame or from under glass. 18.5 x 18.5 in.

Note:  Don't miss yesterday's tasty Addams post here.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charles Addams Witch's Cauldron

Fred Taraba's website offers for sale this preliminary cartoon sketch in charcoal of witches at a cauldron.  It is, of course, by the legendary Charles Addams, master of the macabre. It has been available for over a year now, so the comment that it's "Just in time for Hallowe'en" is once again accurate.

Charles Addams, “Funny – the recipes never come out looking
like they do in the pictures”
Artist: Charles Addams (1912-1988)

Description: Witches at cauldron
Caption: “Funny – the recipes never come out looking like they do in the pictures”
Publication information: Preliminary drawing for New Yorker cartoon. Apparently not published.
Medium: Charcoal
Size: 17.5 x 14”
Signature: signed, lower right.
Condition: Light horizontal creasing, overall very good, framed.

Comment: Just in time for Hallowe’en… a classic example of the master of the season, Charles Addams.

Price: $1,400.

March 11, 2012 Update:  The price has been reduced to $1,100.

October 18, 2012 Update:  The price has been reduced to $975.

Note:  My most recent post about Charles Addams is here.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Canaletto's Piazza San Marco

I find it amusing that this impressive painting by Canaletto of the Piazza San Marco couldn't find a buyer in the 1876 sale at Christie's. By the time of this 1995 sale, the work fetched about £1,000,000, and that would likely be considered a bargain today.

The Piazza San Marco, of course, is the destination of every tourist in Venice, whether today or in the 1740's.

Giovanni Antonio Canal, il Canaletto (1697-1768)
The Piazza San Marco, Venice, looking East along the central Line

oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 36½in. (60.7 x 92.8cm.) 


Wadham Knatchbull (1794-1876), Sherborne, Dorset; Christie's, 24 June 1876, lot 118; unsold at 210gns. and sent to Captain Knatchbull, Babington, Bath.
with Edward Speelman, London, from whom purchased in 1947 by
Sir Henry Philip Price, 1st and last Bt. (d. 1963), Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, Sussex.
with Frank Partridge, London, from whom purchased by Sir Michael Sobell (1892-1993) on 17 May 1962 (with the following lot: #35,000). 
Pre-Lot Text
The Property of
W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Oxford, 1962, and subsequent editions, II, under no. 3.
L. Puppi, L'opera completa del Canaletto, Milan, 1968, no. 243B.
J.G. Links, Canaletto. The Complete Paintings, London, 1981, p. 64, under no. 201. 

Price Realized

  • £1,046,500
  • ($1,604,180)
  • Price includes buyer's premium
    £500,000 - £700,000
  • ($766,450 - $1,073,030)

Sale Information

Sale 5527 Lot 74
Old Master Pictures 
8 December 1995
London, King Street

Lot Notes

The sight of the Basilica of San Marco and the Campanile flanked by the Procuratie Vecchie and the Procuratie Nuove from the West end of the Piazza down its central access has always been 'the quintessential Venetian view' (K. Baetjer and J.G. Links in the catalogue of the exhibition,Canaletto, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989-90, p. 66), its popularity with eighteenth-century visitors as keen as it remains with their twentieth-century successors, to judge from the number of variants of the composition Canaletto painted throughout his career. The earliest of these and much the largest, indeed one of the masterpieces of Canaletto's first style, is the painting now in the Museo Thyssen, Madrid (Constable no. 1; no. 1 in New York 1989-90 exhibition cited above, illustrated in colour), which is datable c. 1723 as it shows the pavement of the piazza being laid, documented in that year. A version in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Constable no. 2, no. 27 in the 1989-90 New York exhibition, illustrated in colour) is generally dated to the late 1720s, and that in the series at Woburn Abbey (Constable no. 4) is documented to c. 1733-6. These are followed by the versions in the Fogg Art Museum (Constable no. 14) and at Milton Park (Constable no. 7), of which an engraving was published in 1742. Possibly the latest version is Constable no. 8 probably painted in England in the early 1750s.

The present picture forms part of a group of three versions datable on stylistic grounds to the early 1740s, the others being that in the Bisgood Collection (Constable no. 3) and that formerly in the Cartwright Collection and recently with Richard Green (Constable no. 5). While the figures in all three paintings are almost identical, the same ropes and cloths hang from the façade of the Procuratie Vecchie and the cloud formations are very similar, there are differences in the proportions and perspective of the buildings and in the relationships between the figure groups, the Bisgood picture includes three extra children towards the lower right and the Cartwright picture is unusual in omitting the horses on the façade of San Marco.

Wadham Knatchbull (1794-1876), the first recorded owner of the present painting, was the great-grandson of both the younger brothers of Sir William Knatchbull Wyndham, Bt., who was on the Grand Tour in 1758 and died without issue. 

October 30, 2011 Update:  Similar views in paintings by Canaletto:

Canaletto, The Piazza San Marco, Looking East (c. 1723)Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Photo: Jose Loren

Canaletto, Piazza San Marco, Looking East, c. 1730-1735

December 28, 2013 Update: This month, Canaletto's Venice, a View of Piazza San Marco, Venice, Looking East Towards the Basilica, as it is now being called, was offered for sale again, this time along with the artist's Venice, the Grand Canal Looking North-East from the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin to the Rialto Bridge. These paintings look superb together and it's encouraging that Sotheby's London didn't try to break them up.
Canaletto,Venice, a View of Piazza San Marco Looking East Towards the Basilica, and Venice, the Grand Canal Looking North-East from the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin to the Rialto Bridge

Canaletto, Venice, a View of Piazza San Marco Looking East Towards the Basilica, as framed

Canaletto, Venice, the Grand Canal Looking North-East from the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin to the Rialto Bridge, as framed

Canaletto, Venice, a View of Piazza San Marco Looking East Towards the Basilica

Canaletto, Venice, the Grand Canal Looking North-East from the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin to the Rialto Bridge