Earlier this year, Paris-based auction house Artcurial created a stir by revealing an exceptional item, new to the market: artwork by Hergé created as the initial cover design for the Tintin album Le Lotus bleu (The Blue Lotus) in 1936.
This artwork in Indian ink, watercolour and gouache on paper will be sold at auction in November, and is estimated to sell for anything between €2 – 3 million (currently, £1,790,843 – 2,686,266).
The art is being presented across Europe, currently exhibited in Artcurial’s gallery in Monaco until 11th September, then in Brussels from 22nd September to 2nd October, in Munich from 3rd to 6th November and finally in Paris on 19th and 20th November, before coming under the hammer on 21st November at Artcurial.
This initial cover design for Le Lotus bleu, Tintin’s fifth adventure, and the album itself, marked a turning point in Hergé’s career, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most evocative covers of any of the young reporter’s adventures.
After becoming friends with Tchang Tchong-Jen, the only real person other than Al Capone to be incorporated into the adventures of Tintin, Hergé’s style changed, becoming more assured.
The cover was apparently inspired by a photo of Anna May Wong, the actress who played Hui Fei in Shanghai Express.
Deemed too costly to reproduce in colour at the time, the design was turned down by the publisher. Hergé gave it to the young son of publisher Louis Casterman, and the boy kept it tucked away in a drawer, carefully folded in six.
Artcurial currently holds eight of the top ten auction prices for work by Hergé, including the world record price for a comic strip drawing by any artist, achieved on 24th May 2014 for the inside cover pages of a Tintin album (2.6M€ / 3.6M$).
“This artwork is a genuine masterpiece encaspulating Hergé’s genius,” enthuses Eric Leroy, Comic Strips expert, arc Artcurial,” and is probably the most beautiful Tintin album cover ever!”
Until Friday 11th September 2020 in Monaco
3/9 boulevard des Moulins
From Tuesday 22nd September to Friday 2nd October 2020 in Brussels
5, avenue Franklin Roosevelt
From Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th November 2020 in Munich
Galeriestrasse 2 b