A ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ Drawing Sets a New Auction Record for a Book Illustration
E.H. Shepard's famous map of the Hundred Acre Wood was one of five Winnie-the-Pooh drawings that collectively sold for over $1.2 million.
A drawing from Winnie-the-Pooh has become the most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction with a £430,000 ($568,761) sale at Sotheby’s London today. The framed ink drawing of The Original Map of the Hundred Acre Wood is by E.H. Shepard, who provided the illustrations for the beloved children’s series by A.A. Milne.
“I suspect that there isn’t a single child who wouldn’t instantly recognize this wonderful depiction of the Hundred Acre Wood. This is the first drawing you encounter in the book and is the visual guide to the entire world of Winnie-the-Pooh,” Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s director of printed books and manuscripts, said in a statement.
The map, which features Pooh and his friends and all their favorite woodland haunts, appeared on the opening end-papers of the original 1926 book. It includes childlike misspellings such as the Hundred “Akre” Wood and a note that the map was “Drawn by me and Mr Shepard helpd.” When Disney adapted two Pooh stories into a short animated film, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree, in 1966, the map served as the inspiration for the film’s opening sequence.
The record-setting auction topped another Shepard drawing, from Milne’s second Pooh book, The House at Pooh Corner. An illustration of Pooh and his friends Christopher Robin and Piglet playing “Poohsticks”—dropping sticks off a bridge and seeing which one passes underneath the bridge the fastest—sold for £314,500 ($493,000) at Sotheby’s London in December 2014. Tuesday’s result considerably outperformed expectations, with a pre-sale estimate of just £100,000 to £150,000 ($132,270–198,405).
It was the second-most expensive lot on the night, with a handwritten page from the manuscript of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species—later used as scrap paper by his family, who never imagined the page’s significance—selling for £490,000 ($648,123) on an estimate of £120,000 to £180,000 ($158,724–238,086).
The sale included four additional Winnie-the-Pooh works by Shepard, all of which had been held in a private collection and had not been publicly exhibited for nearly 50 years. Collectively, the five ink drawings sold for £917,500 ($1.21 million) on a combined estimate of £310,000 to £440,000 ($410,037–727,485).
“In this group of original drawings, you can see the real skill of the artist, the skill of the strokes of his pen,” added Errington, noting that US and UK editions of the Pooh books have always maintained Shepard’s original drawings. “That is the power, and ability of the illustrator, and why this is probably the most famous map in English literature.’
See the other drawings from the sale below.
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