ONE TO WATCH by rachel aydt
A Worthy Tale If there were a Golden Age of children’s book illustrations, it would be anchored firmly in the beloved works of A.A. Milne, illustrated by E.H. Shepard, and the prolific queen of the animal kingdom herself, Beatrix Potter. Close your eyes and you’ll certainly be able to visualize the lush pen and ink or watercolor illustrations that accompanied their whimsical and universal fables: a doe-eyed bear, paw stuck in a honey jar here; a naughty rabbit up to no good in a garden there. These iconic characters have stood the test of time, continuing to mark the fleeting passage of childhood as lovingly now as they did a century ago. In London recently, nostalgia proved valuable at the English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations auction—with Pooh taking top honors. The illustration For a Long Time They Looked at the River Beneath Them... from the book The House at Pooh Corner tripled its pre-sale estimate, selling for nearly $500,000 (£314,500)—a new world record for an original book illustration sold at auction. “The illustration is central to the Winnie-the-Pooh books, and in turn has become one of the most familiar cultural references of the twentieth century,” said Dr. Philip Errington, director of Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts. “It goes to show that the very finest book illustrations are becoming increasingly recognized as works of art in their own right.” The piece—which had been in private collection for nearly 40 years—appears in the book’s sixth chapter, in which Pooh invents the game “Poohsticks” and which has a strong message of friendship and forgiveness. The previous record had been set in 2008, when the final scene from Beatrix Potter’s The Rabbits’ Christmas Party sold for nearly $450,000 (£289,250). Potter was also represented alongside Milne and Shepard in London, with her A Rabbit’s Tea Party fetching $115,000 (£74,500).
Clockwise from top left: So They Got Down Off the Gate ($162,000), Pooh Sat Down on a Large Stone (part of a three-illustration lot, $35,000) and For a Long Time They Looked at the River Beneath Them... ($487,000), E.H. Shepherd
*All GBP to USD conversions are approximate.
3/30/15 10:14 AM