NEW-TO-MARKET COVER PAINTING HAILS FROM ARTIST’S PEAK PERIOD
The year 1971 falls squarely in the classic period of master illustrator and painter Frank Frazetta.
After working in the comics, Frazetta (1928-2010) began producing paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. Art historians credit him with starting the entire “barbarian era” when his interpretation of Conan the Adventurer hit bookstores in 1966. He was soon also painting covers for horror magazines such as Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella.
In recent years, Frazetta’s paintings have garnered remarkable attention from collectors. His 1974 cover painting for the paperback re-issue of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core realized $1 million at an August 2016 auction. And earlier this year, his Egyptian Queen painting, which first appeared in print as the cover for Eerie magazine in mid-1969, sold for $5.4 million at a Heritage auction. The sale set a world record for the most expensive piece of original comic-book art ever sold at public auction.
“This result elevates Frank Frazetta’s art into the stratosphere of visual narrative art on par with the likes of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and other luminaries,” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite.
Within two years of Egyptian Queen, Frazetta completed the cover painting for the reissue of Kyle Onstott and Lance Horner’s Child of the Sun, a brutally intimate novel that captures the depravity and intrigue of Ancient Rome. “The dramatic, multi-figure composition incorporates much more depth, fully realized painterly attention, and detail than many of Frazetta’s book covers,” Hignite says. “It features not only one of the artist’s trademark beautiful women, but three male figures, as well as a plethora of intricately rendered background elements.”
As a result, Hignite adds, “this beautifully flowing image can be appreciated equally in a fine art as well as illustration context.”
The painting is being offered at Heritage’s illustration art auction scheduled for Oct. 15, 2019. It’s expected to realize at least $200,000.
“This is an amazing peak-period masterpiece that was purchased by the consignor in the early 1970s near the time the book was published,” Hignite says. “It has resided in this same collection ever since and has never been offered on the market until now. It’s a great example that shows why Frank Frazetta still reigns at the top of all fantasy illustrators.”
This article appears in the Fall 2019 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.