Friday, May 31, 2013

Charles Addams: Sidewalk Hearse

I have already stated here that I have complete confidence in the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation's forthcoming Charles Addams Catalogue Raisonné project. One very plain reason for this is the outstanding job done by H. Kevin Miserocchi, the Foundation's Executive Director, in cataloguing this drawing by Charles Addams sold at Skinner earlier this year.

The publication history is evidently complete although it is also somewhat unusual. One might reasonably expect a drawing bearing a New Yorker Editorial Department stamp and other notations to be published in that magazine, but this cartoon was first published in McClure's and never appeared in The New Yorker. It would not have occurred to me that the boy in this drawing is not the Addams Family's familiar Pugsley but rather some earlier prototype. Finally, I could not have come up with a better descriptive catalogue title for this drawing than Sidewalk Hearse. I know because I tried.

On February 1, this wordless drawing was sold at Skinner with a presale estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. Internet bidding started at $1,500 and hit the $4,000 mark before the live auction began. There the bids rose in $500 increments to $7,000, the selling price. The drawing had been a gift from the artist to Lou and Deems Taylor. Deems Taylor was a well-known music critic.

The listing:

Charles Addams's Signature

Charles Addams
Inscribed "For Lou & Deems Taylor from Chas Addams"
[End of Auction Listing]

Deems Taylor in Walt Disney's "Fantasia" (1940)

October 26, 2014 Update:  Well, well, well. On the basis of this detailed auction listing, I had thought this cartoon was purchased by the New Yorker and subsequently killed--that is to say, not published. I have now found it in the New Yorker issue of June 25, 1949 and it was therefore not published by the McClure Syndicate on that date.

Charles Addams
The New Yorker,  June 25, 1949, page 31

Charles Addams
The New Yorker,  June 25, 1949, page 31

My Blogger label NYerKilled was before today attached to this post. I use it on this blog only to designate those works purchased by The New Yorker, apparently prepared for publication, and then not run in the magazine. This marked the third instance that I've used it in more than 750 blog posts, but now I'm retracting the label. It's always interesting to speculate what prompted The New Yorker's editors to make an about-face, but in this case I'm delighted to learn that it was not the case.

Note:  My blog post on the forthcoming Charles Addams Catalogue Raisonné can be read here.

If you'd like to read about those rare cartoons that were purchased by the New Yorker magazine and not run, check out my label NYerKilled.  I thought I had found three examples but now I have only two. Of course, I'd love to learn about others....


No comments:

Post a Comment