Bonestell's encounter had a lasting impact on the budding artist, who executed a number of paintings depicting Halley's comet over the years. The present painting was produced in 1960 for the children's book "The Solar System" (see also lot 5). "[Bonestell] decided that, since the Chinese had some of the earliest written records of the comet, it would be appropriate to render the illustration in a Chinese style" (85), making this the first of Bonestell's works to be rendered in a Chinese style. He was reportedly working on another rendering of the astronomical phenomena shortly before his death in 1986, as Halley's Comet was once again blazing across the Earth's skies.
The verso of the painting, bears the handwritten note: "Halley’s Comet. First recorded by both the Chinese and the Romans in 240 BC. Named for the English astronomer Edmund Halley (1656-1742) who saw in in 1682, studied it, and correctly predicted its return in 1757, this being the first prediction ever made of a comet’s return. Halley’s Comet has an orbit bringing it toward Earth every 75-76 years. Chesley saw it in 1910 (April-May), and in 1986 (Jan). It was last seen in 1985-86 and will be visible again in 2061. Its long elliptical orbit takes it out to a point between the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, the two outermost planets of our solar system."
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