Lot 2
  • 2


7,500 - 8,500 USD
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  • Study for "Saturn Seen from Titan" circa 1959(?)
Oil and graphite on board, 7 by 9 inches (sight), signed "Chesley Bonestell" lower right in ink, 12 vertical and 9 horizontal graphite grid lines with alphanumeric numbering imposed over the composition, "Chesley Bonestell" stamped twice on verso. Matted and framed to 18 ¼ by 20 inches. 


Ex Collection of Frederick C. Durant, III


Impey, Chris & Holly Henry. Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration, pp. 114-115; see Ley, Willy. The Conquest of Space, p 132, plate XXXVI; Miller, Ron & Frederick C. Durant III. The Art of Chesley Bonestell, pp 222-223 (final panorama); Miller, Ron. The Evolution of a Space Icon, http://chesleybonestell.tumblr.com/post/90369676094/the-evolution-of-a-space-icon; Wachhorst, W. The Dream of Space Flight: Essays on the Near Edge of Infinity, p 58

Catalogue Note

A STUDY FOR BONESTELL'S MOST ICONIC WORK: "SATURN AS SEEN FROM TITAN." "Bonestell brought the edge of infinity out of the abstract and into the realm of direct experience." (Wachorst) Bonestell's Saturn as Seen from Titan, oft referred to as "the painting that launched a thousand careers," is probably the single most famous astronomical painting ever created. While Bonestell created hundreds of astronomical paintings in his lifetime, his 1944 Saturn as Seen from Titan was his favorite. It was his first published space painting, running in the May 29, 1944 issue of Life magazine, and it would launch an era in which his work would ignite countless imaginations; Bonestell's fantastic depictions of worlds beyond would grace numerous issues of magazines such as Life, Collier's, Scientific American, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Coronet and Pic as well as Willy Ley's 1949 The Conquest of Space, and Von Braun & Ley's The Exploration of Mars, amongst many others. Bonestell gave the first version of Saturn, Viewed from Titan to Willy Ley, and it is now a part of the Bonestell Collection at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. He would go on to create six other complete versions of this painting, including a version that he presented as a gift to his daughter, and the 360° panorama created for the planetarium of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles (memorialized in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean).

Saturn was above all, his favorite subject. "...Bonestell was aesthetically captivated by Saturn, a subject he repeatedly returned to throughout his life. He painted numerous iterations of Saturn from Titan and its other moons. In 1949, for instance, he completed paintings of Saturn from Dione, in which the full body of Saturn is glimpsed from the mouth of a cave. His panorama for the Griffith Observatory, completed in 1959, featured a prescient vision of the frozen landscape of Titan with Saturn low on the horizon. Throughout the 1960s, Bonestell reworked different views of Saturn from Titan, changing the lighting or subtly altering Titan's landscape... Bonestell returned to the subject of Saturn again and again, in various configurations, settings, and lighting." (Impey & Henry)