Chesley Bonestell’s Saturn painting could make $150,000

Sotheby’s is to auction a study for Saturn as Seen from Titan (1944), a celebrated work by sci-fi artist Chesley Bonestell.

Bonestell began his career as an architect, assisting in the design of New York’s landmark Chrysler Building.

Chesley Bonestell Saturn

Chesley Bonestell's Saturn as Seen from Titan was a groundbreaking landscape

In the 1930s he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a scene painter.

Over time he began creating paintings based on his lifelong love of astronomy. Saturn as Seen from Titan, originally published in Life magazine in 1944, represented the first realistic depiction of an alien planet.

The present lot is one of six versions of this seminal work. It’s formed of four 15-inch panels, designed to be displayed in a circular panorama.

The full size specimen was made to be displayed at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory.

“Saturn as Seen from Titan, widely referred to as ‘the painting that launched a thousand careers,’ is probably the single most famous astronomical painting ever created,” Sotheby’s comments.

“While Bonestell created hundreds of astronomical paintings in his lifetime, his 1944 Saturn as Seen from Titan was his favourite.

“It was his first published space painting, running in the May 29, 1944 issue of Life magazine, and it would launch an era in which his work would ignite countless imaginations.”

The piece is valued at $100,000-150,000.

The December 12 sale will also feature an ultra-rare four rotor M4 Enigma machine.

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