Quentin Blake and Neil Gaiman were among the authors and illustrators who helped to raise more than £160,000 for the House of Illustration on Monday evening (11th December), more than doubling pre-auction expectations.
Audrey Niffenegger and Jacqueline Wilson were also in attendance at the ‘First Editions Re-covered’ auction, organised by Blake, the directors of Sotheby’s and art suppliers Winsor and Newton at the auction house in central London.
A collection of 33 first editions of classic books were offered, each with an original dust-jacket, created and donated by leading artists and designers to benefit the House of Illustration, in north London. The auction raised £161,188, more than double the estimated total of between £57,000 and £83,500.
Each artist selected a book “they felt a strong connection to” and created a new dust- jacket or artwork in response to it. The re-imagined classics included Blake’s reworking of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo which made £13,000 his original artwork for Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots soared to a £10,000 auction win (the estimate was £3,000-5,000).
Raymond Pettibon’s tribute to Penguin classics for My Man Jeeves by P G Wodehouse showed a cover of 'My Main Jeeves' and artist Richard Wentworth donated a reworking of White Teeth (Hamish Hamilton) by Zadie Smith while one of the founders of British Pop Art, Peter Blake, recreated the cover of a first American edition of Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there by Lewis Carroll which sold for £15,000.
Artist David Downton's interpretation of a 1945 edition of Dr No (Jonathan Cape) made £10,625, and Charlotte Hode's re-imagining of A Room of One's Own by (Hogarth Press) by Virginia Woolf was scooped by Jacqueline Wilson for £3,250. Children's laureate Lauren Child offered a copy of Pippi Longstocking (Oxford University Press) by Astrid Lindgren with a coloured pencil and watercolour collage of the eponymous character. Gaiman provided the cover for a first English edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, published by London-based Rupert Hart-Davis in 1954.
The auction raised £128,950 altogether and at the end of the two-hour event, organisers made a special plea for attendants to donate money towards a refugee exhibition at the House of Illustration, which culminated in a further £20,000.
A spokesperson for Winsor and Newton said: “The event was very well attended with around 100 people, including many of the artists who had donated work and had a stand of watercolours which Quentin Blake and Neil Gaiman experimented with. The auctioneer, Lord Dalmeny, chairman of Sotheby’s UK, was in high spirits, he made a lot of jokes, and the evening went really well."
The House of Illustration is the world’s only public gallery solely dedicated to illustration and graphic arts and was founded by Blake in 2014. The money will be used to help run the gallery.