Game of Thrones Concept Art Comes to Auction with Heritage
While storyboarding the stoner comedy Your Highness (2011), artist William Simpson was asked to produce concept art for a much different project. The proposed Game of Thrones television show would ambitiously try to adapt George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels. After HBO greenlit the show, Simpson had only one question: “Does that mean I have a job after Your Highness?”
Through November 14th, Heritage Auctions is offering nearly 20 lots of Game of Thrones concept art and storyboards by Simpson in a timed auction. The pieces span the show’s entire run, from its buzzworthy start in 2011 to its somewhat controversial conclusion in 2019.
Season one of Game of Thrones ends with Daenerys Targaryen throwing herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. Daenerys’ loyal retainer, Jorah, tries to stop her but is unsuccessful. The fire burns throughout the night, and as Jorah approaches it the next day, he watches Daenerys rise from the ashes. Three dragon eggs have also hatched in the night, and the babies surround Daenerys, earning her the title “Mother of Dragons.”
Long before the actors and directors brought a scene like this to life, Simpson’s concept art had to encapsulate its drama. “You’re interpreting almost the idea of what a director might see in their head,” Simpson said of the process. “But you also want to show them… more.”
His concept art for the season one finale highlights the offerings in this Heritage Auctions sale. Daenerys sits in a fetal position, reborn by the fire. The baby dragons skitter across her body, and in the distance, Jorah bears witness through the smoke.
“Winter is coming.” The warning had many meanings for House Stark of Game of Thrones, and it also became a meme beyond the show. The phrase, in part, foreshadows an impending battle with the White Walkers. These creatures appear in the show’s very first episode (fittingly titled “Winter is Coming”), and they slowly make their advance in the seasons that follow.
A concept painting of a White Walker for Season 8 of Game of Thrones is available in the auction. The grin of the Walker in the painting is mirrored by its horse. The White Walker grips ice blades in both hands and appears ready to charge.
As the seasons progressed, some viewers soured on the impending threat of the White Walkers in Game of Thrones. Critics like Slate’s Willa Paskin believed no payoff could ever satisfy. “Momentum, the idea that we are hurtling toward some conclusion that will explain it all, has been so encoded into the Game of Thrones experience,” she argues, “that in the absence of any forward motion, the show is… kind of dull.”
Another controversial scene from Game of Thrones represented among the lots is a storyboard of Jon Snow’s resurrection in season six. Jon’s death and then his return felt to some fans like a gambit for ratings. In the storyboard, Jon’s loyal direwolf, Ghost, waits next to his owner’s body. Ghost’s reaction is the first indication that Jon has been successfully resurrected.
Despite the criticism of later seasons, William Simpson knows Game of Thrones still holds a special place in many viewers’ hearts. As he looked at the concept art for the show sitting around his house, he realized it actually belonged to the fans. “You want it to be fulfilling in somebody’s life,” Simpson told Heritage Auctions. “I just hate the idea of artwork being filed away.”
Bidding in the Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction will close on November 14th at 10:50 AM EST. Those interested in the Game of Thrones concept art or any other memorabilia can view each lot and register to bid on the Heritage Auctions website. Learn more about other pieces of memorabilia coming to auction as part of this sale in Auction Daily’s preview Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction.