said Hignite. “His masterpiece for the 1959 Signet Classics edition of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye To Berlin shattered the previous record set for the artist, $6,600, when it soared to a final total of $26,290.”
With all that said, however, it was indeed the pin-ups – especially the work of the greatest pin-up artist to ever pick up a brush, Gil Elvgren – which provided the greatest fireworks of the afternoon. The top Elvgren offering from Martignette, 1964’s A Near Miss (Right on Target), was certainly a bullseye with a final price of $143,400. It provided a direct compliment to the top two lots of the entire auction, both Elvgrens, as well – It's a Snap (Pretty Snappy; Snap Judgment) from 1958 realized $215,100 and Cover Up, 1955 finished at $191,200 – though not from the Martignette Collection. Upsetting Upset, a 1969 Elvgren from Martignette performed very well for a later period piece from the master, finishing the afternoon at $80,660.
“Beyond the staggering prices for Elvgren – one collector in the gallery pointed out that the top prices were equal to those collectors pay for sketches from Rembrandt – pin-ups were notably strong across the board with Enoch Bolles leading the way,” said Jaster. “Ideal for a Hunting Lodge Film Fun Magazine cover from December 1936 brought $38,840, a record which stood for about two minutes before his February 1935 Film Fun Magazine cover, Slipping Beauty, almost doubled that at $65,725.
Robust prices were also seen for works from Earl Moran and George Petty, while Alberto Vargas and his beautiful Vargas Girls continued to show the stature of legendary gatefold artist for both Esquire and Playboy. Among the strong prices realized for the variety of his work in the Martignette Collection, it was his delicate December 1946 Esquire Calendar Girl and Reclining Nude, Preliminary Drawing for the Very First Varga Girl, from October 1940, that realized the most healthy prices, bringing $53,775 and $50,790, respectively.
The biggest names in Illustration history performed well throughout the marathon auction, with Dean Cornwell leading the way with two epic paintings, Captain Blood Inspecting the Treasure Chest Jewels, a July 1930 illustration for Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Spanish Tavern, 1922. Amos Sewell also got some well-deserved recognition for his wonderful March 11, 1950 Saturday Evening Post cover, Kids Playing Cowboy, which realized $41,825, also a record for the artist. Formidable prices were also posted for works by Harvey Dunn, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Tom Lovell and Howard Pyle.
Consignors and sellers of Illustration Art are invited to www.HA.com/Sell. Or simply email Todd Hignite at ToddH@HA.com, or call 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1790.
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