Authenticity of Frank Hampson art in upcoming Italian auction confirmed

Last month, we reported that Italian auction house Urania is hosting a sale of original comic art and illustration in Parma on 11th May 2019 – and it includes a number of items by British artists including a Dan Dare-inspired artwork by Frank Hampson. When we posted the story, some fans doubted its authenticity, but we can now put their concerns to rest.

"Satellite Control" - cover art by Frank Hampson for Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza N.54, published by Editoriale Del Drago in 1981
“Satellite Control” – cover art by Frank Hampson for Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza N.54, published by Editoriale Del Drago in 1981

On offer by Frank Hampson is a signed piece of art titled “Satellite Control, and original cover done created for booklet No. 54 of Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza, published by Editoriale Del Drago in 1981.

No. 54 of Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza, published in 1981
No. 54 of Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza, published in 1981

The artwork initially threw some Dan Dare fans, and it was a surprise to Frank’s son, Peter Hampson, who runs the Dan Dare creator’s official web site – because he was previously under the impression a draft image he’d posted online some time back was a rough for the Science Museum murals Frank  painted in the 1970s.

“Obviously it wasn’t that, but the layout for the illustration in the auction,” he notes.

“Looking at it now it’s pretty obvious – the different cockpit on the Anastasia lookalike in the foreground and the greatly extended space station behind – neither of which appear like that in the mural.

Franks’ original rough for the cover measures approximately 20″ x 16” and was drawn in some form of reprographic copy of an original pen and ink (not coloured) .

“If the measurements on the website refer to the image itself rather than the whole board, then my copy is a slight reduction of the original<” Peter notes. “Was this copy taken before my father coloured it, signed it, and sent it off? It’s pretty much line for line, although there are quite a few detail changes which I suppose could well have been made when the finished version was being worked up.

"Satellite Control" - line art by Frank Hampson for Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza N.54, published by Editoriale Del Drago in 1981
“Satellite Control” – line art by Frank Hampson for Grande Enciclopedia della Fantascienza N.54, published by Editoriale Del Drago in 1981

“There is even a very faint outline circle on my copy which I hadn’t noticed before – it’s just visible on the scan – where the earth appears in the final illustration.

“Some of the minor alterations do seem a bit odd,” he acknowledges, which is why fans of Hampson’s work were concerned it had been wrongly attributed. “The shading and the air intakes on the nose of the Anastasia lookalike for example, and the difference in the spacesuit visor around the chin.

“The colouring is a bit odd as well, and I did wonder if it was sent off as a pen and ink and coloured and possibly slightly altered in Italy, but the signature, which looks right, appears to have been painted over the finished space background so… intriguing!”

Dan Dare Science Museum Mural by Frank Hampson, created in the 1970s
Dan Dare Science Museum Mural by Frank Hampson, created in the 1970s

While there is no mention of Dan Dare in the lot description, the artwork  does seem to be inspired by the murals Frank created for London’s Science Museum in the 1970s, last seen in 2008, as part of a major exhibition that made use of the Eagle hero to showcase the scientific developments of the 1950s.

The Science Museum commissioned two mural paintings from by Frank Hampson in 1977, panels of “Dan Dare” characters and machines with extra-terrestrial backgrounds.
There is a feature on the 2008 exhibition here on the official Frank Hampson web site and Eagle Times featured information on the exhibition here.

Along with this genuine Frank Hampson artwork, there are many, many terrific pieces from European and US publications, in Urania’s upcoming auction, including  pages from The Losers and Black Panther art by Jack Kirby.

David Britton has written an article about the artwork, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Eagle Society’s magazine, Eagle Times.

The Urania Auction House is online at www.uraniaaste.com | View the auction lots here on Live Auctioneers

Visit the official Frank Hampson web site at frankhampsonartwork.co.uk

With thanks to David Britton and Peter Hampson

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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