Winnie-the-Pooh Illustration Sets Auction Record at Sotheby’s

The most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction.

E. H. Shepard, For a long time they looked at the river beneath them. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.
E. H. Shepard, For a long time they looked at the river beneath them. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

An illustration created by E.H. Shepard for one of A.A. Milnes’s beloved Winnie-the-Pooh books has become the most expensive book illustration ever to sell at auction. The piece, which was expected to fetch in excess of £100,000 ($157,000), was hammered down at £314,500 ($493,000) during a sale of children’s books at Sotheby’s London.

The ink drawing is from The House at Pooh Corner, the second volume in the series, published in 1928. Titled For a long time they looked at the river beneath them…, it depicts Pooh and his friends Piglet and Christopher Robin playing “Poohsticks” on a bridge, eagerly waiting for the sticks they have dropped over the other side to pass underneath. The scene is from “In which Pooh invents a new game and Eeyore joins in,” the book’s sixth chapter.

The illustration had been in a private collection since the 1970s. Last year, a pencil drawing of the same scene went for £58,750 ($92,090). Milne and Shepard collaborated on four books, including the two Pooh tomes, and a children’s book of poetry that introduced the character.

The bridge in the drawing is the Posingford Bridge in East Sussex’s Ashdown Forest, Milne’s hometown. It was restored in the 1970s by Milne’s son Christopher, the real-life Christopher Robin, and rebuilt in 1999.

It seems likely that Pooh’s record may not stand for long: an original watercolor illustration from Antoine de Stain-Exupery’s 1943 classic The Little Prince stands to sell for between €400,000 and €500,000 ($495,000–$620,000) when it hits the auction block at Artcurial in Paris next week, according to Agence France Presse.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.

Share

Article topics