Norman Rockwell’s masterpiece, full-length portrait The Song of Bernadette realized a stunning $605,000 to lead Heritage Auctions’ $3.7+ million Illustration Art Auction event. Records were set for scores of artists across Classic and Golden Age Art, Science Fiction, and Pulp genres, as sell through rates reached 98 percent by value and 92 percent by lot.
“The diversity of records tells us that the market is incredibly strong,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “This stands as one of the most successful Illustration events we’ve ever held.”
Treasures from the Golden Age of Illustration Art saw intense bidder interest and several fresh records, particularly for artist Stevan Dohanos. The Future Fireman, a cover painted for The Saturday Evening Post, Nov. 14, 1953, led an extensive offering of his work at $106,250. Victory Garden, another Post cover, held the record briefly at $81,250, before The Future Fireman crossed the block.
Additional Golden Age highlights include A Child’s Prayer, a book cover painted in 1925 by the revered Jessie Willcox Smith, which realized $112,500, while N.C. Wyeth’s I Thank Him for the Knowledge That- I Shall Not Tell!!…And, Perhaps,…I Shall Not Wholly Die…Perhaps sold for $103,125. Joseph Christian Leyendecker’s Harvard Crew Team, a stunning oil on canvas published as an advertisement for the Howard Watch Company in 1907, deftly surpassed its pre-auction estimate to sell for $100,000.
A veritable who’s who of illustration artists was led by Santa Claus in a Hot Air Balloon, painted by Frank Earl Schoonover in 1928 for The Popular Magazine, which sold for $57,812. Dean Cornwell’s sultry The Artist and His Model fetched $53,775 and A Puppet of Fate, lushly rendered by Howard Pyle in December 1899 for New Monthly Magazine, sold for $40,625.
Pin-up art enjoyed a strong showing as three paintings produced as Brown & Bigelow calendar illustrations by master pin-up artist Gil Elvgren reached six figures, as Lucky Dog (Dog Gone Robber) sold for $173,000; On the House reached $149,000; and Come and Get It, soared to $137,000. The auction set record for artist Rolf Armstrong as his The Enchantress, another Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration, brought $81,250. Strong results for Alberto Vargas’ iconic work showed up in Is This What They Mean by Having a Formal Affair?, which reached $53,125, while George Petty’s Petty Girl on the Phone, a pin-up for True Magazine, realized $46,875.
The Frank Collection of Science-Fiction and Fantasy Art set a record for a work by Virgil Finlay when Viridi, Goddess of Nature, a cover painted for Other Worlds Science Stories magazine, sold for $56,250 – more than tripling the artist’s previous records.
“We were very proud of how tightly focused this sale was,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “We limited it to high end examples by the greatest illustrators and the excellent bidder participation, the incredible sell-through and the final results reflected the enthusiasm for excellent Illustration art in all genres”
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $800+ million, and 800,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.