|Bidding Ended:||July 17, 2014 at 4:35 PM EDT|
Auction #212 - Part II
Item numbers 989 through 2633 in auction 212.
This exceptionally large watercolor, by a master artist in the tradition of European landscapes and forestscapes, is 18.5 x 23.5” in museum quality framing to an overall size of 26 x 31”. It is one of the four or so largest fully realized watercolors created by Sendak based on his statement in 1985 to Ted Hake and recent Hake’s research of previous auction sales as well as holdings of Sendak book art at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia and Sendak opera art at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. The setting for Sendak’s vision of the monstrous cook guarding the castle-kitchen of the witch Creonte seems inspired by another famous castle, Neuschwanstein. Known as the castle of the fairy tale king, Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as his private refuge. However, he died almost simultaneously with his castle’s completion in 1886 and within seven weeks of his death the castle was opened to the public. Today, it is one of the most popular castles in Europe and hosts 1.4 million visitors annually. Much like Neuschwanstein, the castle Sendak created as the lair of his operatic monster cook sits atop a rocky prominence with sheer rock walls and cliffs leading to lush forested valleys in the foreground and taller mountain peaks in the background. We’ve divided the rest of this description into four categories: the creation and brief plot of the opera, the collaboration of Sendak and Frank Corsaro for their 1982 production created for the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, additional details about the art, and details on the provenance and four extra pieces which are included with the art.
Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. Among his credits is the children’s musical symphony Peter and the Wolf. The Love for Three Oranges resulted from a commission he received during a successful visit to America in 1918. The opera premiered at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago December 30, 1921. The opera, sung in French, tells the tale of a King with a son who suffers from melancholia. The only cure is laughter. Court jesters and clowns are useless, but when the witch Fata Morgana falls down revealing her underwear, the Prince goes into hysterics. This earns him a curse. He will be obsessed with a love for three oranges and cannot rest until they are found. The magician Tchelio reveals the location of the oranges and summons a demon who creates winds to blow the Prince and his friend Trouffaldino a great distance to a palace guarded by a monstrous cook. In the DVD that comes with this art, at the start of Act III, Scene 2, the Prince and Trouffaldino are seen from the back and suspended in the air waving their arms and legs as the wind carries them to the castle guarded by the monster cook, with this art seen as the destination to which they are being blown. Suffice to say, the oranges are successfully stolen from the cook and after a few more plot twists the Prince finds his cure through true love.
THE SENDAK/CORSARO 1982 GLYNDEBOURBNE FESTIVAL OPERA PRODUCTION
Frank Corsaro is one of America’s foremost stage directors of opera and theatre. By 1981, Sendak and Corsaro had two collaborations, Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 1979 and Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen in 1981. As Corsaro writes in the book included with this lot: “We awaited our third collaboration with curious expectancy… it came in the guise of an invitation from the prestigious Glyndebourne Opera in England: Serge Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, or L’Amour des Trois Oranges as it was to be billed. Add to the prestige the fact that this would represent a first time for an American artist and director to grace the groves of Glyndebourne, and the occasion seemed an unduly exciting proposition.” The opera was performed in May and June, 1982 and then on August 17, 1982 there was a performance for television. Sendak created this art for the television performance. The art appears in the DVD recording of that performance and the DVD is included with this lot. Also included is Sendak’s hand-written, dated and signed statement of provenance, written on his personal stationery and given to Ted Hake with the art. Sendak wrote: WATERCOLOR FROM PROKOFIEV’S “LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES” USED NOT FOR THE STAGE PRODUCTION-BUT USED FOR THE T.V. VERSION OF THE OPERA-Maurice Sendak March 21, ‘85”
The description of the art is covered in the first paragraph. See our section The Scoop on Auction #212 for the story of how this art was acquired. Sendak signed and dated the art in the lower right corner “Maurice Sendak-March’85” at the same time he wrote the letter of provenance. There are very few fully realized watercolors by Sendak in private hands and only one piece we know of in this (for Sendak) exceptionally large size. His book art went to the Rosenbach Museum & Library. The estate bequeathed some art from Love for Three Oranges to the Morgan Library & Museum. Queries to both institutions and one auction record reveal only three finished watercolors of slightly larger size and only one in private hands. This is a backdrop including a Wild Thing from a different opera. It was first sold at a charity auction and then sold a second time at auction in March, 2009 for $74,000.00. In addition to Sendak’s watercolor masterpiece offered here, four additional items are included as follow: a. Sendak's Letter of Provenance, b. Book Promotion Poster Signed by Sendak, c. Book Detailing Sendak & Corsaro Collaboration 1984 First Edition, d. DVD of the August 17, 1982 TV Performance. The art is seen briefly at the beginning of Act 3, Scene 2.
(R - $50000 to $75000)