Thursday, August 24, 2017

At Sea Without Peter Arno

In the comments section of yesterday's post, cartoonist Paul Merklein raised the question of the authenticity of a purported Peter Arno cartoon original with a listing concluding today on eBay. He wrote:

Speaking of Ebay... Have you seen this? 
Is this really an original drawing by Peter Arno? I see the signature, but the style suggests it is drawn by someone other than Mr. Arno.  
Am I the only skeptic here?

I replied:

No, you aren't. There is no way this eBay listing shows a work by Peter Arno or any sort of New Yorker cartoon.

I was going to leave it at that. Surely no one could mistake the eBay cartoon for the work of Peter Arno, whatever the signature. No one could really think a color cartoon from this era could have appeared in the New Yorker. Then the bidding jumped from $46 to $112.50. Perhaps I should weigh in and say something...

The cartoon art on eBay is a color cartoon that was evidently published in a men's magazine. The original artwork in question shows a boat enthusiast with a young, overdeveloped woman visiting on board his sailboat. He has surreptitiously cut loose the rowboat and pretends to be alarmed. "Oh, dear!! The dinghy's loose and you can't swim!!" The implication, I suppose, is that she has no choice but to remain stranded on the sailboat with him and seek comfort in the cabin. Is this coercive scheme meant to pass for clever?

"Oh, dear!! The dinghy's loose and you can't swim!!"
Artist unknown, publication unknown

Now let's look at a real Peter Arno cartoon, one with a similar maritime theme, that was published in the New Yorker in 1951. Now I always thought Westover was the name of the savvy boater with the mustache, but apparently it is an elite girls' school. The "know-how," it seems, can run either way.

"You've got to hand it to Westover when it comes to plain know-how."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, June 23, 1951, page 27

 The rest of the eBay auction, if you need to see it:
The spurious signature has been added to an apparently unsigned drawing.

Detail of couple

Detail of dinghy


"Peter Arno"
eBay Listing as of August 23, 2017

"Peter Arno"
eBay Item Description
eBay Bid History
18 hours 52 minutes remaining
Update: Sold for $337!
"Peter Arno"
eBay Listing Ended August 24, 2017

eBay Bid History
Seven bidders, nineteen bids. What is the world coming to?

Note:  I'd love to hear from anyone with details of where this cartoon was published and who created it.

Paul Merklein's website is here.

The Peter Arno cartoon—the real one—is mentioned in Laurie Lisle's book Westover: Giving Girls a Place of Their Own (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2009) here.

Here's the last time I wrote about artwork bearing a fake Peter Arno signature.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno