Signature Illustration Art Auction
Heritage Auction Galleries
February 18, 2010
Important original American imagery from the Collection of the American Red Cross, punctuated by names like Haddon Sundblom and Walter Beach Humphrey, highlights the comprehensive array of artwork that is Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 18 Signature® Illustration Art Auction.
“There is something instantly recognizable and unmistakably American about these wonderful original illustrations,” said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “While all the art was created by a wide grouping of talented artists, they all are definitive of the period and subject. They’re also all consigned directly from the American Red Cross, and all proceeds from the auction go to benefit the organization.”
The ongoing dispersal of The Charles Martignette Estate, still the finest collection of illustration art ever offered at public auction, continues to yield its amazingly deep trove of treasures to the collecting public. Perhaps even more important to collectors is that Martignette’s genius has enticed many collectors to release long-held important works from their own collections to sell alongside his legendary gathering.
“This auction is notable, among many reasons, for the huge selection of stellar pin-up art that has come to accompany Martignette,” said Todd Hignite, Consignment Director at Heritage Auctions, “including one of the most striking Vargas we’ve ever offered, Duotone Varga Signature, 1947, estimated at $30,000-$40,000, and one of the wildest Enoch Bolles’ Film Fun magazine covers of his career, expected to go for $12,000-$18,000.”
Heritage Illustration Art Auctions have rightly become synonymous with the sale of prime examples of the original artwork of Gil Elvgren, the unchallenged king of pin-up art. The Feb. 18 auction is no exception, with seven major Elvgrens to choose from, including the catalog cover lot He Thinks I’m Too Good To Be True, 1947, an absolute stunner from the master, and Blanket Coverage, 1952, classic examples of Elvgren’s unmatched eye for beauty.
One area that collectors new to illustration art might pay special attention to is premium pulp and paperback cover art.
“We’ve never come close to a selection of such classic, iconic covers for many of the most noteworthy titles,” said Hignite, “including many from Martignette’s famed collection.”
A stunning Sci-Fi pulp cover, Amazing Stories, August 1942, by Harold W. McCauley, is one of the great images of the period. It is estimated at $6,000-$8,000. In The Great American Pin-Up, Martignette himself noted this iconic science fiction scene as an example of the connection between the pin-up field and the pulps: “Many artists who restricted their careers to pulps,” he wrote, “incorporated pin-up and glamour themes into their subjects, as in Harold McCauley’s vintage pulp from the 1940s.”
Peter Driben is always a popular draw for original pulp art lovers, and prime examples of his work continue to surprise as they reach new heights of bidding. His oil on board The Captive is another fantastic example of masterful pin-up art combined with the best of pulp art, as a buxom blond with her hands bound above her head eyes the action off-canvas. This is another image Martignette cited in his book The Great American Pin-Up. It is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
Two paintings from legendary illustrator Rafael De Soto mark a special point in Martignette’s collection and speak, more than ever, to his incredible eye. Black Book Detective, pulp cover, August 1934 is one of a few early paintings from De Soto’s finest artistic Art Deco period known to survive. It is believed this painting hung on display in Coney Island’s famous House of Horrors attraction. De Soto’s “H” is for Heroin, paperback cover, 1953 is one of the most important paperback images ever created and appeared on the cover of David Hulburd’s juvenile delinquent classic, H is for Heroin, Popular Library #495, 1953. Both paintings are estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
“The staple of our Illustration Art auctions is always a superb grouping of classic Golden Age art,” said Jaster, “and we’ve got the bases covered once again, without a doubt.”
Martignette’s personal favorite artist, Dean Cornwell, provides one of the great Golden Age highlights with his masterpiece, The Rendezvous, 1951-1952, a pinnacle of Cornwell’s formal approach from a peak period of his career. Another personal favorite of Martignette’s was Harvey T. Dunn, and his Saturday Evening Post Illustration, A Furbished Gentleman, from April 8, 1916, is another high point of the Heritage Auctions event. Both paintings are estimated to bring between $20,000-$30,000.
No Heritage Illustration Art Auction is complete without an offering from the master, Norman Rockwell, and his There is Only One Reason, Roebling Corporation Steel Wire Rope ad, Fortune Magazine, May 1953, fills that space quite nicely. This well known illustration appeared in numerous trade magazines as an ad for the John A. Roebling Corporation of Trenton, New Jersey. It is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
An incredible group of Saturday Evening Post covers, spanning 1902 to 1960, is sure to have discriminating collectors hotly chasing the diverse offerings with such examples as Thorton Utz’s vibrant and evocative Saturday Evening Post cover from April 19, 1952, estimated at $8,000-$12,000, and Frederick Sands Brunner’s Valentine’s Day themed Saturday Evening Post cover of Feb. 16, 1935, estimated at $2,000-$4,000.
Without a doubt, however, the greatest Saturday Evening Post cover offered – and one of the principal highlights of the auction altogether – is J.C. Leyendecker’s wonderfully stylized and beautifully playful Bringing in the Turkey, Dec. 2, 1933. It is estimated at $100,000-$150,000.
“Leyendecker is one of the greatest illustrators of all time,” said Hignite, “and paintings of this quality represent the very best of what he was capable of. Such A+ examples are very rare in the marketplace.”
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 475,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.