Edward Gorey Art and Illustration from W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera

- by Michael Stillman


Edward Gorey Art and Illustration from W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera

W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera is offering a catalogue of Art and Illustration List No. 1: Edward Gorey. You all know Edward Gorey, writer, artist and illustrator. His illustrations were used in his own books and many others, as well as magazine cartoons, etc. His style is distinctive – eerie, Gothic, strange. The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, which has provided the material presented in this catalogue, provides what must be the best quoted description of his work - “humorously unsettling.” It can be disturbing in a funny sort of way. His combining humor with the macabre creates these mixed emotions which make you want to see more.


In this catalogue, Will Baker & Co. offer ten works of original art from the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust. Gorey died in 2000, establishing the trust in his will. The trust manages his assets and intellectual property, preserving Gorey's legacy while fulfilling his primary wish, providing for the welfare of animals. Briefly, these are the art works offered in this catalogue.


1. Somnambulist. A circa 1940s watercolor on paper of a man sleepwalking in dark night clothes. Unpublished and unrecorded. $7,500.


2. Joyeux Noel. Unpublished, unrecorded ink on paper, man in a sled observing a flying angel with a sign “Joyeux Noel.” Circa 1950. $12,500.


3. Winter Phrases. Pen and ink of two men in what appears to be the living room of an older, classic home, one saying. “One is not well but by the fire-side” while the other replies, “Can you skait?” The bizarre exchange was taken from a 19th century foreign language conversation guide. Circa 1960. $9,000.


4. Notable American Women. Pen and ink of nine somewhat creepy-looking women in various old time dress, along with a couple of children and four male corpses. It was prepared for a New York Times Book Review of a book titled Notable American Women 1607-1950. From 1972. $5,000.


5. The Hapless Child and Other Inscrutable Stories. Album cover and liner art for lyrics of six Gorey tales set to music by Michael Mantler, sung by Robert Wyatt. Created in 1976. $40,000.


6. Dracula Souvenir Program. Pen and ink drawing prepared for the back cover of a souvenir program for a Dracula stage revival circa 1977. Displays a flying vampire bat carrying a rose. $4,500.


7. Edward Gorey Bestiary Engagement Calendar 1984. Colorful watercolor artwork for cover of Gorey's 1984 spiral-bound engagement calendar. $17,500.


8. Gazebo. Pen and ink artwork used for limited edition lithographs sold by the PBS catalogue Signals 1992-1997. Later traveled with the first Gorey exhibition. Displays women at a séance in a gazebo, objects floating around them, a butler brings tea, two ghosts pass by, and two children ride the back of an ice-skating alligator. Quintessential Gorey. $40,000.


9. The New Religion of Risk Management, in the Harvard Business Review March-April 1996. Too complicated to describe these watercolor images so I'll leave that to the catalogue. $9,000.


10. The Little Black Dress and Other Signs of Status. This drawing was made for a listing in the March 27, 2000, New Yorker, for the Fashion Institute of Technology's exhibition of that name. It features 13 adults in various outfits, a child with a floating dog on a leash, and various objects, all circled around the letters B L A C K. It appeared just three weeks before Gorey died. $32,500.


W. C. Baker Rare Books and Ephemera may be reached at 203-752-7410 or will@wcbaker.com. Their website is www.wcbaker.com.