Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Exciting Art!

There was an auction today at Sotheby's in New York, and two of the lots were lovely pieces of original Oz artwork by John R. Neill. Sad to say, I didn't win either piece, but they are quite exciting to see!

Both are drawings used in L. Frank Baum's The Scarecrow of Oz, from 1915. These are the only known surviving pieces from Scarecrow, and until they turned up at auction I believe their existence was unknown. Both are color plate drawings which were watercolored after publication.

One drawing shows Blinkie the witch being carried away by a band of Orks. This is a fun image of the old crone, clearly taken by surprise as she flies over the chimney below. It's been very nicely watercolored, and closely matches the colors used in printing the plate in the book.

The other drawing was used as the book's frontispiece. In this, the Scarecrow is about to be burned at the stake, while a band of Orks is seen in the distance, flying in to save the day! This has also been colored nicely, but with some interesting differences from the printed plate.

The overall background tone seems to be more golden than the pink tone seen in the book. Also, the Scarecrow is a bit different - there are tones of pink and blue in his face, and his hat and boots are both in blue. In fact, he's colored to match Baum's original description of the Scarecrow.

In the book, the hat band and boot tops are red, while the hat itself is yellow. This is the standard coloring used on the Scarecrow since The Patchwork Girl of Oz. An interesting point is the hatband, which Neill shaded heavily with black ink in the drawing - this has been removed by the printer in order to add the brighter red. In fact, the Scarecrow has been brightened up all around!


Blair Frodelius said...

Were these perhaps unused illos from the R&L Junior Editions?

Bill Campbell said...

An interesting idea - but I don't think so. There are several watercolored color plates from Tik-Tok (the book published the year before Scarecrow) that have turned up, and now these - I think it seems more likely that they were used in some manner for display purposes around that time. In all cases, they are the actual original drawings which were used in publishing the book, and colored afterward. Maybe something will surface from Rinkitink, the following year's title!