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The Art of Playboy, Gil Elvgren, Golden Age greats headline Fall New York illustration art auction
Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Little Annie Fanny: Lost At Sea, complete five-page Playboy story, September 1964. Mixed media on board, 22 x 16 in. One signed. This work was also published on pages 71-79 of Playboy: Classic Cartoons, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2000. Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- The Comic Art of Playboy: Over Five Decades of Illustration and Cartoons, more than 85 paintings, illustrations and cartoons that graced the legendary men's magazine - led by pieces like Alberto Vargas' Darling, It's My Hat I Want Your Opinion On, Vargas Girl Playboy Pin-Up from April 1963 (estimate: $30,000+) - will be the draw for collectors, Oct. 22-23, in New York at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (2 East 79th Street, at 5th Ave.) to Heritage Auctions' Illustration Art Signature(r) Auction.

"This is one of our largest and most impressively varied sales to date," said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions, "including not only continued highlights from the Charles Martignette Estate, but also a separate catalog devoted entirely to the Playboy offerings."

The incredibly rich selection from Playboy - truly one of the top venues for the best illustrators and cartoonists of the second half of the 20th century - features virtually every great name to appear in the iconic magazine's pages, represented by absolutely choice examples coming directly from Playboy's archives and selected especially for this auction in New York.

"We're honored to be presenting this great selection of artwork from the famed publication," said Todd Hignite, Consignment Director for Illustration Art at Heritage. "We're particularly excited by the three beautiful complete Little Annie Fanny stories - created by Harvey Kurtzman and a host of the greatest artists to ever work in the comic medium - to note just one of the principal highlights."

The most highly anticipated of the three Little Annie Fanny stories is likely to be Little Annie Fanny: Lost At Sea, a complete five-page story, from Playboy, September 1964, then re-published on pages 71-79 of Playboy: Classic Cartoons (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2000). It carries an estimate of $10,000+.The Playboy offerings even include an original comic drawing by Hugh Hefner himself; "Martini?", from the Christmas party humor pictorial, Playboy cartoon illustration, January 1954, that is expected to bring $2,000+.

As collectors are keenly aware, one of the strongest segments of the Illustration market continues to be pin-up art, and, following on the heels of its record-setting Gil Elvgren result in May of this year, the auction house is offering a particularly great grouping by the undisputed master, including Up in Central Park, 1950 (estimate: $30,000+) and Fire Belle (Always Ready), 1956 (estimated: $50,000+), one of Elvgren's most famous and well known paintings.

Elvgren is joined in the auction by a deep catalog of top tier illustrators such as Edward Runci (Pleasing Her Flock, 1953. Estimate: $8,000+), George Petty (One Hose On, January Pin-Up, True magazine Petty Girl calendar, 1948. Estimate: $10,000+), William Medcalf (Five Years Service, 1977. Estimate: $3,000+), Peter Driben (Red Head on Fringed Shawl, Titter magazine cover, February 1948. Estimate: $6,000+), Earl Moran (A Run on Sugar, estimate: $10,000+) and many more from the famed Charles Martignette Estate.

The main catalog of the auction this time out is headed by what is surely one of the greatest paintings in existence by famed Golden Age illustrator Howard Chandler Christy, Nymphs in Summer, 1946, a monumental work never before offered at auction. It carries a pre-auction estimate of $60,000+.

"This is a very exciting discovery, indeed," said Hignite. "Christy is one of the biggest, most collectible names in the hobby and you rarely see newly discovered works of his. This is a rare an opportunity to acquire an important painting by this figural master."

This masterpiece is joined by a wonderful selection of gems from the Golden Age of Illustration, including excellent examples by Jessie Willcox Smith (Little Girl with Irises, Good Housekeeping cover, June 1930. Estimate: $30,000+), Joseph Christian Leyendecker (The Rescue of Gismonda, interior story illustration, 1906. Estimate: $30,000+), Dean Cornwell (Man at the Crossroad, Cosmopolitan magazine story illustration, 1924. Estimate: $10,000+), Amos Sewell (The Audience, Saturday Evening Post cover, July 28, 1956. Estimate: $15,000+), Harrison Fisher (Ladies in the Park, Ladies Home Journal magazine cover, October 1903. Estimate: $6,000+) and McClelland Barclay (Posing, Saturday Home Magazine cover, May 5, 1934. Estimate: $10,000+) among a "who's who" of the greats in the genre.

The auction will also feature another section devoted to the children's book art of the great Garth Williams, led by the original covert art to William's children's masterpiece The Rabbit's Wedding, 1958, a piece that generated intense controversy when it was published in the late '50s because of the books depiction of a black bunny marrying a white bunny, criticism that Williams laughed off when it was leveled. It is estimated at $5,000+.

Great pulp works are represented by numerous fine works, with the work of two masters leading the way: Reynold Brown's Love-Slaves of the Amazons, original movie poster illustration, 1957, is expected to bring $10,000+, while H. J. Ward's Speed Mystery pulp cover, July, 1943 is expected to bring $10,000+ for this artist whose work at auction has, of late, never been hotter.

"What we've mentioned here really is merely a small sampling of the auction's highlights," said Jaster. "I should take this opportunity to remind collectors that the Martignette Estate, which has been such an important part of our auctions since the first sale in summer 2009, will soon come to a close; we'll certainly never again see a comparable collection come to auction."

New York Illustration Art auction | Playboy | Gil Elvgren | Golden Age |

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