Classic Frank Frazetta Painting Offered For First Time In Heritage Auctions' Illustration Art Auction

Oct. 15 Sale Also Features Science Fiction Masterpieces From Crain Collection

October 4, 2019

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 IRI collection should continue their waves of popularity in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art Auction set for Tuesday, Oct. 15, in Dallas, Texas.
Coming to auction for the first time, Frank Frazetta’s “Child of the Sun” original paperback cover, 1972, (est. $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 it 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 recent success at Heritage Auctions; his 1969 “Egyptian Queen” fantasy painting shattered the record for original comic art on May 16 when it sold for $5.4 million in the company’s Comics and 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,” according to Heritage Auctions vice president Todd Hignite. “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’s “The Chessmen of Mars” original book dust jacket, 1922, (est. $70,000-$90,000) is 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).
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 held Aug. 13 and 14 (reported in a previous issue of Antiques & Auction News).
Renowned pin-up artist Alberto Vargas has several works featured in the sale, including “Martini Time,” 1935 (est. $40,000-$60,000). The 27-by-20-inch watercolor 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 on page 84 of “Vargas” by Alberto Vargas and Reid Austin (1978) and on page 49 of “Vargas” (Taschen, 1990).
The collection from Investment Rarities Incorporated (IRI) 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. Some of the top lots in the sale from the IRI collection include, but are not limited to Hugh Joseph Ward’s “The Price, Spicy-Adventure Stories,” July 1935 (est. $30,000-$50,000), and Gil Elvgren’s “Check and Double Check (Now Don't Get Me in a Corner),” 1946 (est. $30,000-50,000).
Gil Elvgren was one of the most popular and acclaimed pin-up artists of the 20th century. His work in this auction also includes “I've Been Spotted (Lasting Impression),” 1956 (est. $40,000-$60,000). The oil-on-canvas was 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 (est. $30,000-$50,000), and “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” 1947 (est. $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.
Hugh Joseph Ward’s “Loot for the Lords of Doom,” Spicy-Adventure Stories cover, August 1940 (est. $30,000-$50,000), is a very rare science fiction painting by the artist, and part of the Crain collection, while “The Price,” from Spicy-Adventure Stories, July 1935 (est. $30,000-$50,000) comes from a group of outstanding original pulp and magazine art from the IRI collection.
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