The sale of E. H. Shepard’s ink drawing of the much-loved A. A. Milne characters Pooh, Christopher Robin and Piglet broke the world record for any book illustration in the sale at Sotheby’s auction house.
The drawing, which has become one of the most famous book illustrations of its time, shows the trio standing on a bridge looking expectantly into the river below.
In the story, Pooh invents the now widely-played game “poohsticks” in which he and his fictional friends throw sticks over one side of the bridge and wait for them to appear on the other.
The picture was first published in Milne’s “The House at Pooh Corner” in 1928 and has been used on the front of many editions of the popular children’s book since.
The auction house described it as “probably the most famous and evocative book illustration of the 20th century”.
“It’s an incredibly important piece, it’s reproduced twice within ‘The House at Pooh Corner’, and I had great expectations that this would catch people’s imagination but it exceeded all our expectations,” Philip Errington, director of Sotheby’s book department, told AFP.
The auction record for a Shepard drawing was just under £140,000, while the record for a book illustration was previously £290,000.
“We’re very happy we’ve smashed those two world records,” Errington said.
Sotheby’s sold the work in 1971 and 1974. The signed original has since been in a private collection.
“Back in 1974 it sold for a few hundred pounds, certainly below the thousand mark, so this is an indication in how the market in book illustrations has just soared recently,” said Errington- AFP