Illustration Art and Children’s Classics Headline Swann Galleries’ Upcoming Sale

Nazia Safi
Published on

Illustration art is one of the most powerful forms of visual communication. It informs, instructs, inspires, and reaches people. The visual layout of storytelling is not new; it dates back to the cave paintings created in Lascaux, France around 15,000 B.C.E. Illustration art includes many different interests, from childhood stories and cartoons to contemporary movies and sports. Swann Galleries will bring illustration art from children’s books, magazine illustrations, comic strips, and art from The New Yorker to auction on January 28th, 2021, in New York.

The sale will feature Dick McDonough’s collection of golf illustrations. A swimming record holder and champion, McDonough left the sport to become an attorney. He also became an avid golfer and acquired one of the most significant collections of golf memorabilia. McDonough also wrote a book on the subject, titled Great Golf Collections of the World. The upcoming auction will include several items from McDonough’s collection, including a 1932 cover for The Saturday Evening Post by Joseph Kernan.

Joseph F. Kernan, College Football, cover for The Saturday Evening Post, 1932. Image from Swann Galleries.
Joseph F. Kernan, College Football, cover for The Saturday Evening Post, 1932. Image from Swann Galleries.

Making its auction debut, College Football shows a player running with a football in his left arm, looking towards his extended right arm (estimate: USD 25,000 – $35,000). Other players are shown falling over each other in an attempt to stop the running player. Executed in bright colors, it is one of the 26 covers Kernan created for The Saturday Evening Post during the 1920s and 1930s.

Artist Joseph Francis Kernan was an athlete and outdoorsman. His nostalgic and humorous illustrations celebrate the joy of family, home, and outdoor recreation. Between the 1910s and the 1940s, his works appeared in nearly every major magazine, including The Saturday Evening Post, The Country Gentlemen, Collier’s Liberty, The Elks, Capper’s Farmer, and The Associated Sunday. His art captured, as he described it, “the human side of outdoor sports, hunting, fishing, and dogs.”

Charles Schulz, I'll have to go back to the house...I forgot my rubbers..., Original Peanuts comic strip, 1960. Image from Swann Galleries.
Charles Schulz, I’ll have to go back to the house…I forgot my rubbers…, Original Peanuts comic strip, 1960. Image from Swann Galleries.

Charles Schulz, best-known for the comic strip Peanuts, is considered one of the most influential American cartoonists of all time. He published his first drawing at 15, a picture of his dog that would later serve as the inspiration for Snoopy. In 1950, Schulz compiled the strips of his earlier flop show Li’l Folks and sold it to the United Features Syndicate, Inc., which changed its name to Peanuts. Schulz was not happy with the name, he had told TIME in 1965: “I wanted to keep Li’l Folks. I wanted a strip with dignity and significance. ‘Peanuts’ made it sound too insignificant.” By the end of the decade, Peanuts was published daily in over 2,000 newspapers. It became the most widely read comic strip in the United States. Schulz won a Reuben Award, the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor, for his work.

The January Illustration Art event will present an original four-panel Peanuts comic strip published in 1960 with the United Feature Syndicate, Inc. (estimate: $8,000 – $12,000). The strip features the sibling duo, Lucy and Linus Van Pelt.

William Pène du Bois, Big Eyes…; Big Hands…; Big Teeth....; Little Red Riding Hood, pages 20-25, undated. Image from Swann Galleries.
William Pène du Bois, Big Eyes…; Big Hands…; Big Teeth….; Little Red Riding Hood, pages 20-25, undated. Image from Swann Galleries.

America’s most beloved children’s book illustrator and author, William Pène du Bois, is known for both whimsy and serious themes. Born into a family of artists, Pène du Bois published his first book for children in 1938, embarking on a successful journey for the rest of his life. He served as an editor for Yank during World War II. He was also a founding editor of The Paris Review in 1953. Pène du Bois is among the few who have been rewarded with a Newbery Award and a Caldecott Honor. Coming to auction is an original illustration of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale by Pène du Bois (estimate: $2,000 – $3,000). The three double-spread storyboards for pages 20 through 25 include six illustrations, each signed “William Pène du Bois.”

The Illustration Art auction will begin on January 28th, 2021, at 12:00 PM EST. Interested bidders can view the entire catalog on Swann Galleries’ website.