Hergé, the Belgian cartoonist who had changed the history of comic books with his beloved character Tintin was a master illustrator. His first work was published on January 10th, 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième, a supplement for the youth. Known for his distinctive ‘ligne claire or ‘clear line’ drawings, he helped bring old-fashioned art into the European art scene once again. Recently in the news is one such distinct original drawing of his that is looking to make history with its current evaluation.
What makes the cover so unique?
Tintin is one of the most beloved comic book characters of all time. The series created by Hergé has been translated into over 80 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide. The ‘Tintin in America’ cover is particularly sought after by collectors, as it is one of the earliest examples of Hergé’s work and showcases his distinctive drawing style.
The cover depicts a Native American chief pointing an accusatory finger at Tintin, who is tied to a pole. One can also see Tintin’s faithful dog Snowy peeping from behind him.
The cover that was put up for auction on February 10th, 2023, in Paris is a part of ‘The World of Hergé, Tintin’s Creator’ and is the first of its kind. It has been put for sale by an unidentified Belgian art collector. The auction was also streamed online and people were allowed to place bids through the official website as well. The cover sold a whopping price of €2,158,000 (£1.9m).
It is an original drawing for the 1942 cover of the Tintin in America album. The drawing will be put up for auction by the leading auction house, Artcurial. The auction house had put an estimate on the timeless work of art to be between €2.2 to €3.2 million. The everlasting cover has been drawn using Indian ink, graphite, and corrective gouache. The drawing was used again in 1946 as a cover for the coloured edition of the comic.
Artcurial has been known to hold some of the best auctions for works by Hergé. Back in 2012, the auction house had also sold the original drawing for the cover illustration of the 1932 edition of ‘Tintin In America’ for a whooping amount of €1,338,509.
The high rate of the auctioned cover comes a close second in competition with the cover for Hergé’s fifth book The Blue Lotus. The cover illustration for this book sold for a record €3.2m. The illustration was painted using ink, gouache, and watercolor and shows Tintin and Snowy hiding in a porcelain jar with a red dragon looking on.
Tintin in America
‘Tintin in America’ was the third volume in the series of Adventures of Tintin. The comic covers Tintin traveling across America with his sidekick dog Snowy and reporting on organized crime in Chicago. The comic also tells the tale of Tintin encountering a tribe of Native Americans, the inspiration for the cover of the book.
The specialty of Hergé’s drawing style
Various European art movements, including Cubism, Futurism, and Art Deco influenced Hergé’s style. He was known for his use of crosshatching, which gives his illustrations a rich, textured look. Hergé’s drawings are simple and clear, making his characters and scenes easy to understand. This simplicity, along with his storyline, is what made “The Adventures of Tintin” a beloved and enduring comic book series.
Hergé’s style has been widely imitated and has influenced countless other artists and cartoonists. His artwork was once a part of only the specialised and niche market of comic strips but is now sold on the global art market. A reason for this is also the overall integration and recognition of Comic art as fine art or ‘9th Art’.
The recognition of comic books as the 9th art is a testament to the power and importance of this medium and reflects the growing appreciation for the role that comics and graphic novels play in today’s world. As the artwork by Hergé is set at such a high value, it is pleasing to see that comic art continues to be respected and appreciated by many. Other comic arts that were also put on sale on the same day included works of Bernard Hislaire, another celebrated Belgian comic book creator. Hislaire is more popularly known by his artist name Yslaire, and his work is quite contrary to the clean lines format that Hergé followed.
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