Original Charlotte's Web cover art brings $155,350, Elvgren remains strong, in $3.75 million Auctio Part 1 of the Garth Williams Archive brings $780,000+; Elvgren pin-ups continue to dominate; Leyendecker, Willcox-Smith lead Golden age offerings on Oct. 15
News-Antique.com - Oct 20,2010 - NEW YORK – The original 1952 cover art for the best-selling children's book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, brought $155,350 on Friday, Oct. 15 as a feature of Heritage Auctions’ Signature® Illustration Art auction. Part One of Garth Williams: The Art of Charlotte’s Web – consigned by the late great artist’s family – brought more than $780,000, with the cover art to the famous book establishing a world record price for any Williams art. The price for the cover was more than five times the pre-sale estimate. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.
The auction proved to be Heritage’s second highest-grossing Illustration Art Auction since the inception of the category, tallying an impressive total exceeding $3.75 million – eclipsed only by the February 2010 $4.5 million Illustration Art Auction – with 939 bidders vying the more than 500 lots in the auction, translating into a 97.4% sell-through by total value. The auction marked the first major event for Heritage under the auspices of its newly opened New York offices at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th Street).
"The response to the Charlotte's Web art was tremendous,” said Barry Sandoval, director of operations for the comics and original comic art auctions at Heritage, “especially to the iconic cover art. We expected that the cover art would exceed our initial estimate of $30,000 or more, but for it to break $150,000 is breathtaking. It just shows how universally beloved this book and this art really are."
Another famous drawing from the book, the page 95 illustration entitled, "There Was the Handsome Pig, and Over Him, Woven Neatly in Block Letters, Was the Word TERRIFIC," brought $95,600.
The overall focus of the auction was on classic Golden Age illustration, which did not disappoint, but the unchallenged king of the genre obviously remains Gil Elvgren, who prodigious pallet produced fully four of the top 10 lots of the entire auction, including the top offering of the entire event in the form of his 1958 oil painting, Rising High, from the famed Estate of Charles Martignette, which realized $167,300.
“This is one of Elvgren’s greatest, and certainly most famous, images,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage. “We’re now seeing more consistent prices on the top artists coming out of Martignette’s collection, and without a doubt Elvgren continues to be the most popular of all artists.”
Illustrators known for their contributions to The Saturday Evening Post captured the full attention of the Golden Age collectors participating in the auction, with J.C. Leyendecker providing the brightest fireworks of all. Leyendecker’s Christmas-themed American Weekly cover, December 19, 1948, featuring a trio of surprised kids watching Santa Claus plant a serious kiss on their mother, also from the Martignette Estate, taking top honors, realizing $131,450.
The Saturday Evening Post artists continued to inspire collectors, as artist Thorton Utz’s impressively large and immediately memorable Saturday Evening Post cover of May 30, 1959 – featuring an epic traffic jam to start off the summer travel season – established a record