This (Illustrated) American Life

This (Illustrated) American Life

Chapters

I llustration holds a special place within the canon of American Art – bolstered by a particular strain of nostalgia that certain illustrated works evoke. A sketch by Ludwig Bemelmans, the famous author and illustrator behind the Madeline book franchise, transports viewers back to the days of bedtime stories and make-believe; or an early 20th-century magazine cover from the hand of N.C. Wyeth can drum up a yearning for the days before technology, when sledding hills and husking bees were central to a town's social calendar. Sotheby's American Art Online auction features a collection of splendid illustrations from storied American artists, including Bemelmans, Wyeth and others.

Below, we take you through the works that highlight the sale, which will remain open for bidding until the afternoon of 5 March. Read on to see more, and be sure to see the main sale page for a full catalogue of works.


Howard Pyle

At the Same Time He Extended toward King Louis the Precious Memorial

1899 Estimate $20,000 – 30,000

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The Duke of Gloucester Sends for Edward Maudelain

1909 Estimate $20,000 – 30,000

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N.C. Wyeth

When He Comes He Will Rule over the Whole World

1913 Estimate $200,000 – 300,000

This artwork is accompanied by a copy of Henry van Dyke's The Lost Boy, for which the work served as the frontispiece illustration.

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N.C. Wyeth, A California Mission, 1918. Estimate $100,000 – 150,000.

A California Mission

1918 Estimate $100,000 – 150,000

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Children with Sleds on Snowy Hill (Kuerner’s Hill; Coasting)

Circa 1915 or 1923 Estimate $60,000 – 80,000

On this artwork, Christine B. Podmaniczky notes: "the locale of the painting is 'understood' to be Kuerner's Hill in Chadds Ford, and that the children represented 'are those of the artist, with Andrew Wyeth in the foreground.' If Andrew Wyeth was indeed the model, the date of execution would be closer to the later part of the date range." (Christine B. Podmaniczky, N.C. Wyeth: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, vol. II, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 2008, p. 834)

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The Husking Bee

1941 Estimate $80,000 – 120,000

The present work was originally conceived as a cover illustration for Progressive Farmer magazine, but was never published.

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Ludwig Bemelmans

Sketch for Madeline in London

Estimate $6,000 – 8,000

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Joseph Christian Leyendecker

Study for ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’

Estimate $10,000 – 15,000

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Frank Earle Schoonover

Approaching Camp

1924 Estimate $30,000 – 50,000

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Richard Axtell

Showtime at the Bird Cage, Tombstone, Arizona

1981 Estimate $5,000 – 7,000

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American Art

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