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Sotheby's to sell the finest single-owner collection of original book illustrations ever offered at auction
Kay Nielsen, ink and watercolour drawing (335 by 247 mm) reproduced in Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm (Hodder and Stoughton, 1925). Est. £20,000 – £30,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- The finest single-owner collection of original book illustrations ever to appear at auction will be presented at Sotheby’s London on 12th December 2012. The unprecedented collection of over 100 ink and watercolour drawings, featuring illustrations by the finest artists and from the most loved books, comes from the private collection of the renowned film director Michael Winner. Alongside E.H. Shepard’s first depiction of Winnie-the-Pooh with Christopher Robin (from Winnie-the-Pooh), the sale will include illustrations by Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, William Heath Robinson and John Tenniel. In total, the sale will comprise over 150 lots of illustrations and books, and is estimated to realise in excess of £1 million.

Michael Winner remembered: “It was many years ago that I went into an old bookshop in the Charing Cross Road; there I saw two paintings by Arthur Rackham which I found utterly memorable. They had a quality which was unique. From then on I became a collector: I was hooked. I retained an interest that has followed me through my life, keeping the fascination with all things illustrated: works by Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielson, Mabel Lucie Attwell and many others. There were no aspects of my collection that I did not appreciate, whether it was the deep blue colours of Dulac or the childlike simplicity of Attwell. They all fascinated me, and above all were a great source of fun that always amused me.”

Dr Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s Specialist Books and Manuscripts commented: “The scope and quality of the pieces in the Michael Winner collection is breath-taking. To see the original artworks, so familiar from their reproductions in children’s books, is a great thrill and Sotheby’s is delighted to present collectors with the rare opportunity to acquire these well-known pieces. All the great names of Children’s illustration are here and the number of works by certain artists is certainly unprecedented. The Winner Collection is a testament to a discerning and remarkable collector.”

E.H. Shepard
"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin."

This, the first depiction of Winnie-The-Pooh with Christopher Robin from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (Methuen, 1926), is aruguably the best-known illustration in all of children’s literature. The original pencil illustration (195 by 145mm), drawn by E.H. Shepard, is estimated at £70,000-£100,000. Shepard’s illustrations were central to the success of A.A. Milne’s tales of Winnie-The-Pooh. Works by the artist, who also drew the celebrated illustrations for Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in The Willows (1931), are now held in collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Beatrix Potter
“Gentleman rabbit with letter”

Beatrix Potter continues to be one of the most popular children’s authors, over 100 years since her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published. Famous for her illustrations as much as for her story-telling, her depictions of rabbits are probably the most loved of all of her drawings. This particular illustration, a fine ink and watercolour drawing of a Gentleman Rabbit, adorned with a tail-coat, waistcoat, staff and hat (70 by 52mm) is believed to have been designed for a greetings card. Although unpublished at the time, it was later reproduced by The Beatrix Potter Society. Executed around the period 1890-93, it is estimated at £30,000 - £50,000.

Kay Nielsen
The sale will also include a selection of 14 illustrations by the celebrated Danish artist Kay Nielsen (1886 – 1957). They include 12 ink drawings from Hans Andersen’s renowned Fairy Tales (Hodder and Stoughton, 1924) - including divisional title illustrations for both „The Snow Queen‟ and ‘The Hardy Tin Soldier‟. Nielsen is also represented by two major watercolours in the sale including the plate for Hansel and Gretel. This illustration captures the moment Hansel and Gretel discover the witch’s marvellous gingerbread house in the forest, her trap for catching little children. The drawing, dated 1924 is estimated at £20,000-£30,000.

Arthur Rackham
The collection includes 24 pieces by the British illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867–1939), spanning the artist’s entire career - from his earliest contributions to late Victorian periodicals through to the early 1930s. Alongside original illustrations for Rip van Winkle and Hans Andersen‟s Fairy Tales, the sale includes Rackham’s ink and watercolour drawing for J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (Hodder and Stoughton, 1906) and the artist’s original ink and watercolour drawing depicting the fable of 'The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea' reproduced in a 1912 edition of Aesop’s Fables.

Edmund Dulac
The sale will also include 18 works by Edmund Dulac (1882–1953) including original illustrations for Stories from The Arabian Nights (Hodder and Stoughton, 1907) and for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells and other poems (Hodder and Stoughton, 1912). It also includes a pencil, ink and watercolour drawing from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Hodder and Stoughton, 1908) depicting Prospero in Act 1, scene ii (pictured right). This illustration – pictured right - is estimated at £15,000 – £20,000.

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