The Fantasy World of Arthur Rackham: Rare Original Illustrations from the Collection of Shirley Carter Burden
Online Auction: 19 November–1 December 2021 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

The Fantasy World of Arthur Rackham: Rare Original Illustrations from the Collection of Shirley Carter Burden 19 November–1 December 2021 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

S otheby’s is pleased to offer the Shirley Carter Burden collection of thirty-four original works by Arthur Rackham, the greatest book illustrator of his day, and a pioneer of fantasy art. The drawings illustrate such works as The Tempest, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and many others. The characterful drawings are replete with fairies, witches, dragons, anthropomorphic animals, and many other figments of the artist’s imagination. The collection is further distinguished by containing the complete suite of coloured illustrations for The Vicar of Wakefield.

Auction Highlights

Arthur Rackham, Self-Portrait, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arthur Rackham Timeline

Shirley Carter Burden

Shirley Carter Burden (1908-1989): filmmaker, photographer, publisher, collector, and arts patron. A descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Burden was one of the great creative power houses on both the East and West Coasts of the US. After stints in film and commercial photography, beginning in 1950 Burden pursued his photography solely as fine art. He developed relationships with Minor White, Edward Steichen, and Dorothea Lange – photographers with whom he collaborated as well as collected – that had a lifelong impact. In 1955, Steichen invited Burden, who was living in Beverly Hills, to help select photographs from the Los Angeles area for the ambitious 1955 exhibition Family of Man presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. It was Steichen who encouraged Burden’s own extensive work with photographic essays, including God Is My Life (1959) and I Wonder Why (1964).

Among the many institutions Burden supported were the Morgan Library; Aperture, where he was chairman of the board of trustees; The Museum of Modern Art, where he was chairman of the Photography Committee; and the New York Public Library, where the Shirley C. Burden papers are now housed. The Burden Gallery at Aperture, and the Burden Professorship in Photography at Harvard University, are both named in his honour.

Many of the drawings offered here were exhibited in a dedicated exhibition of Rackham’s work held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1974.

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