1924 Pencil Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien
LONDON – This is thought to be the only non-photographic portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien drawn in his lifetime. The pencil portrait of the Lord of the Rings author was rendered by Eric Valentine Gordon (1896-1938), a Canadian philologist, or historian of languages and their evolution, who worked alongside Tolkien during his early academic life. They met when Tolkien, discharged from military service in 1919 at the age of 28, took up the post as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds.
He found friendship with the fellow enthusiast of medieval philology, writing in his diary, “Eric Valentine Gordon has come and got firmly established and is my devoted friend and pal.” The two men founded the Viking Club, which held meetings characterized by members drinking and singing songs they’d written in Old English and Norse.
The bust portrait, showing Tolkien looking to the left, is signed by Gordon and inscribed underneath ‘Professor John Ronald Tolkien/ Leeds University 1924.’ Offered in its original oak frame from a U.K. private collection, it is estimated at £15,000-£20,000 ($18,400-$24,500) at Forum Auctions’ Thursday, November 30 sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper.
Keith Haring for Swatch Modele Avec Personnages Watch
DENVER, Penn. – Never has the phrase one man’s trash is another man’s treasure been more appropriate.
Swatch, the Swiss pop timepiece manufacturer, was one of the most dominant and omnipresent brands of the 1980s, producing a dizzying array of product that was eagerly purchased by fans worldwide.
Swatch approached Pop Art icon Andy Warhol (1928-1987) in 1984, asking him to design a line of watches bearing his art and imprimatur.
As history would have it, Warhol declined due to “time constraints” (with possible translations to “not enough money” or “meh”). However, the Pop Art legend did a solid when he recommended his young protégé Keith Haring (1958-1990) for the job.
Warhol had only met Haring months earlier at an exhibition, but he recognized a future powerhouse in the making. Haring jumped at the Swatch opportunity and created numerous timepieces for the brand, most of which were available exclusively in the United States. Many, but not all the Haring Swatch pieces featured his cartoonish outlined figures in movement, a perfect symbol for mid-1980s Swatch.
Model no. GZ100, Modele Avec Personnages (Model with Characters), was released in 1986. Standing figures reside at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions on the dial, while kinetic ones occupying the intervening number locations. Estimated at $800-$1,500, it is one of the most anticipated lots in Morphy Auctions’ Vintage Swatch Watches sale on Thursday, November 30.
Josep Cusachs y Cusachs Oil on Board of a Cavalry Soldier
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Though he was born in France while his parents were traveling, Josep Cusachs y Cusachs (1851-1908) grew up to become a commander in the Spanish army and a veteran of the Third Carlist War, the final in a series of civil wars in 19th-century Spain between traditionalists and what today would be called “progressives.”
Upon retirement, Cusachs set about becoming a painter, a career he would continue until his death early in the 20th century. Like many artistic men with a military background, he selected painting as his medium, producing a body of work focused on military subjects, particularly the cavalry due to his love for horses.
Cusachs gained fame and fortune early in his post-military art career through numerous Spanish exhibitions where his art was displayed and sold. One of his works was purchased by Queen Maria Cristina in 1887, and in 1891, he would win a gold medal at the Berlin International Exposition.
This untitled work from 1904 features a Spanish cavalry officer atop his mount, surveying the field with mounted soldiers in his background. Measuring 8.5 by 5.1in, the oil on board is a featured item at Carstens Galleries as part of its Antiques, Paintings, Swords and Art Deco sale slated for Saturday, November 25. The small but important work carries a $4,500-$7,500 estimate.
Book on Christo, Wrapped By Christo in Canvas and Twine
DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Husband-and-wife duo Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, better known as Christo (1935-2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), became well known later in life for wrapping landmarks and landscape elements in fabric. However, their first monumental project, the wrapping of the Chicago Museum of Art in 1969, was panned by the public and ordered to be undone by the city fire department.
The book Christo by David Bourdon, first published in 1970, was an early monograph on the artist and his ideas. Within a couple of years, the artists had decided to ‘wrap’ the book and in 1972, issued an edition of 100 books tied up in canvas and string. This one, signed and numbered 27/100 and now framed in a clear acrylic case, has an estimate of $5,000-$25,000 at Akiba Galleries’ Prime Time Auction on Tuesday, November 28.