Rare Frank Frazetta, Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas art heads to Heritage Auctions

An oil painting by iconic American science fiction and fantasy artist Frank Frazetta could bring as much as $400,000, and artwork from the collection of Glynn and Suzanne Crain and the Investment Rarities Incorporated collection should continue their waves of popularity in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art Auction on 15th October in Dallas, Texas.

Published as the paperback cover of Child of the Sun by Kyle Onstott and Lance Horner (Fawcett, 1972), this amazing peak-period masterpiece was purchased by the owner in the early 1970s near the time the book was published. It has resided in this same collection ever since and has never been offered on the market until now. The dramatic, multi-figure composition incorporates much more depth, fully realized painterly attention, and detail than many of Frazetta's book covers, featuring not only one of the artist's trademark beautiful women, but three main male figures, as well as a plethora of intricately rendered background elements. As a result, the beautifully flowing image can be appreciated equally in a fine art as well as an illustration context.

Published as the paperback cover of Child of the Sun by Kyle Onstott and Lance Horner (Fawcett, 1972), this amazing peak-period masterpiece was purchased by the owner in the early 1970s near the time the book was published. It has resided in this same collection ever since and has never been offered on the market until now. The dramatic, multi-figure composition incorporates much more depth, fully realized painterly attention, and detail than many of Frazetta’s book covers, featuring not only one of the artist’s trademark beautiful women, but three main male figures, as well as a plethora of intricately rendered background elements. As a result, the beautifully flowing image can be appreciated equally in a fine art as well as an illustration context.

Coming to auction for the first time, Frank Frazetta Child of the Sun paperback cover, 1972 (estimate: $200,000-400,000) is an amazing peak-period masterpiece purchased by the current owner in the early 1970s near the time when the book was published, and has been kept in the same collection ever since. The dramatic, multi-figure composition includes more depth and detail than many Frazetta book covers.

Included is a beautiful woman, one of the elements many associate with the artist, but also three heroic male figures, as well as a range of intricate background elements, making the image one that can be appreciated as fine art as well as in an illustration context.

Frazetta’s artwork has enjoyed unmatched success at Heritage Auctions: as we previously reported, his 1969 Egyptian Queen fantasy painting shattered the record for original comic art back in May, when it sold for $5.4 million in Heritage’s Comics & Comic Art Auction in Chicago.

“The success of Egyptian Queen launched the demand for Frank Frazetta’s work from something for collectors of illustration art to the kind that appeals to collectors of all kinds of art,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite said. “Specific to this auction, it helped to lay the foundation for the groundswell of demand for the Child of the Sun cover image.”

James Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957). The Chessmen of Mars book dust jacket, 1922. Oil on board

James Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957). The Chessmen of Mars book dust jacket, 1922. Oil on board

Also in the auction is The Chessmen of Mars book dust jacket, 1922 (estimate: $70,000-90,000) by James Allen St. John – a dramatic image of a one-sided battle in which a warrior on horseback prepares to skewer his opponent as he falls to the ground with a blood-drenched sword. The image, which comes from the Crain collection, is signed lower right by the artist and was published as the book dust jacket of The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (A.C. McClurg & Co., 1922), making it one of the most desirable paintings by the artist known to exist.

The demand for the items in the Crain collection could soar; numerous auction records were shattered in The Glynn and Suzanne Crain Science Fiction Collection Auction back in August.

Renowned pin-up artist Alberto Vargas has several works featured in the sale, including Martini Time, 1935 (estimate: $40,000-60,000). The 27-by-20-inch watercolour and pencil on paper evolved from drawings done in the 1920s and was in the artist’s possession when he died in 1982. The fact that it was not commercially commissioned meant Vargas had full artistic freedom. The image was reproduced in Vargas, by Alberto Vargas and Reid Austin (1978) and also Vargas (Taschen, 1990).

The collection from Investment Rarities Incorporated founder Jim Cook and his wife, Diane, includes 126 lots in this sale. The Cooks have fostered a reputation as elite collectors in numerous categories, including Fine Art, Comic Art, Sports and Entertainment.

Thanks to their reputation for their ability to identify both quality and rarity in their collection, which in this sale includes works by an array of artists, including Hugh Joseph Ward, Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas, Harry Lemon Parkhurst, Walter Beach Humphrey and Rolf Armstrong.

Items on offer include The Price, for Spicy-Adventure Stories, July 1935, art by Hugh Joseph Ward (estimate: $30,000-50,000); a Gil Elvgren Pin-Up, “Turquoise Bikini”, commissioned for a Simoniz car polish advertisement, circa 1960 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and his “Check and Double Check (Now Don’t Get Me in a Corner)”, 1946 (estimate: $30,000-50,000); and “Pin-Up in Yellow” by Alberto Vargas, circa 1940s (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Gil Elvgren Pin-Up in Turquoise Bikini, Simoniz car polish advertisement, circa 1960

Gil Elvgren Pin-Up in Turquoise Bikini, Simoniz car polish advertisement, circa 1960

Gil Elvgren was one of the most popular and acclaimed pin-up artists of the 20th century, whose entries in the auction also include “I’ve Been Spotted (Lasting Impression)”, 1956 (estimate: $40,000-60,000), reproduced as Figure 367 in Gil Elvgren The Complete Pin-Ups by Charles G. Martignette and Louis K. Meisel (Taschen Books, 1996.)

Other top Elvgren offerings in the sale include “Good Looking”, 1950 (estimate: $30,000-50,000); “The Bicycle Built for Woo”, 1947 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); and “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” 1947 (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

American illustrator Hugh Joseph Ward, who usually signed his works with only his initials, “H.J. Ward,” also has multiple works featured in the sale. Ward is known for his cover art for pulp magazines, especially for Spicy Mystery, Spicy Detective and other titles published by Harry Donenfeld in the weird menace genre.

His “Loot for the Lords of Doom”, Spicy-Adventure Stories cover, August 1940 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) is a very rare science fiction painting by the artist, and part of the Crain collection, while “The Price”, for Spicy-Adventure Stories, July 1935 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) comes a group of outstanding pulp and magazine art from the IRI Collection.

The Ark of the Covenant by Frank R. Paul, Air Wonder Stories cover, August 1929

The Ark of the Covenant by Frank R. Paul, Air Wonder Stories cover, August 1929

Other top lots include, but are not limited to “The Ark of the Covenant” by Frank R. Paul, an Air Wonder Stories cover, August 1929 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); “The Asteroid of Death”, also by Frank R. Paul, a Wonder Stories Quarterly cover, Fall 1931 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); “The Great God Harris” by Harry Lemon Parkhurst , Spicy-Adventure Stories cover, December 1940 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); “The Sleeper is a Rebel” by Earle K. Bergey, Thrilling Wonder Stories cover, February 1948 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); “There’s No Stopping Her!” by Enoch Bolles, a Film Fun cover, May 1936 (estimate: $20,000-30,000); and “Santa Girl” by Alberto Vargas, 1941 (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

View the items in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art Auction on 15th October 2019 in Dallas, Texas

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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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