Freeman’s is sparking childhood nostalgia this fall sale season with several exciting pieces of literature and illustrations coming up for sale over three auctions.
Perhaps the pulse of the whimsy and wonder running through the auction house is The Patricia and John Roche Collection, currently on exhibition. The September 18 sale includes 100 paintings, prints and watercolors collected by children’s book author and illustrator Patricia Roche and her husband John. Proceeds of the sale will go to fund a scholarship at St. John’s University in New York.
It was while raising their two children, Janet and Keith, and reading to them at the family’s home in Brooklyn Heights, that Patricia discovered she wanted to tell stories of her own. She took courses in art and writing children’s books at the New School and, combining her interest in drawing and painting, began to write and illustrate stories for children, many of which were inspired by her deep love for her own son and daughter. Patricia found a receptive editor at Dial Press in New York, and began her career as an author. She has since published seven books.
The Roche’s aesthetic was inspired by their life experiences and led to several exciting examples in the current sale. One of the most celebrated artists of the British Golden Age of Illustration (1850-1914), Arthur Rackham (British, 1867-1939) is represented in and ink and watercolor entitled “Mother Goose.”
In 1913, Rackham illustrated “The Old Nursery Rhymes,” a well-known collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes attributed to the fictional archetypal character "Mother Goose." The character was featured on the book's frontispiece and in this example the watercolor shows a witch-like Mother Goose flying her oversized goose in the London sky, a clear reference to the first verse of her eponymous tale: "Old Mother Goose,/When she wanted to wander,/Would ride through the air/On a very fine gander.”
Another greatly cherished illustrator represented in the Roche Collection is Maurice Sendak (American, 1928-2012). Though best remembered for his award-winning children's book “Where the Wild Things Are,” his artistic and literary output was prolific, and throughout his career, he produced over 50 books. Within the Roche collection are examples of drawings related to such beloved classics as “Little Bear,” “Really Rosie,” “Nutshell Library,” “Some Swell Pup,” “Hector Protector,” “As I Went Over The Water” and “Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present.”
Sendak’s work will also be showcased in Freeman’s next American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists sale in December. “Reading is Fun!” depicts a few beloved characters from “Where the Wild Things Are” and was executed with watercolor and gouache on paper.
Set in imaginary, fantastical worlds, Sendak's stories were often philosophical and, though rooted in hope, spoke unvarnished truths about the darker and difficult nature of life. For those reasons, the wisdom and magic of Sendak's storytelling captivated children and adults alike.
“There are so many adults who enjoy a book for children but are vaguely embarrassed at enjoying it,” Sendak once said. “As though only their children should enjoy it and there's something strange about them enjoying it - which is such an odd twisting and distortion of the pleasure of having your child self intact and alive and something to be proud of.”
Later this month Rackham will be represented once more in the Books & Manuscripts sale in such titles as William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream,” Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow” among others.
The Books & Manuscripts sale is also offering an exceptional collection of everyone’s favorite honey-loving bear, Winne-The-Pooh. The set of four are all first trade editions and include “When We Were Very Young” (1924), “Winnie-The-Pooh” (1926), Now We Are Six” (1927) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928). The collection includes text illustrations and pictorial endpapers. This set is a particularly fine example showing no loss of lettering or design elements with intact dust jackets.
The art of illustration will again be represented with works from the celebrated, Edmund Dulac in this sale. “The Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales from the Old French” circa 1910 contains 30 mounted color plates with guard sheets.
Freeman’s is currently accepting consignments for its next American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists sale.
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