Garth Williams's Little House on the Prairie cover art sells in California

Famed illustrator Garth Williams' original graphite 1953 cover art for Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder — a familiar image to anyone that has read the classic books since the Fifties — will be part of Heritage Auctions' February 11 Signature Illustration Art Auction in Beverly Hills, California.

It is expected to bring $8,000+ and joins 99 other Little House drawings, spread across 30 lots, in the auction.

Little House on the Prairie Wagon, Garth Williams
Little House on the Prairie - wagon cover art

"So many of us saw America's heartland through the eyes of Garth Williams, through these exact drawings," said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations of Comics & Comic Art at Heritage, "and the cover is the most famous of them all.

With his wonderful soft-pencil art, Williams conveyed the majesty of the prairie, but also the warmth of a family that had to stick together through all of its hardships."

Williams' scenes of the close-knit frontier family and all of their hardships have become accepted as the definitive versions, though they did not see print until the early 1950s, when they replaced the extremely stylized versions by Helen Sewell that had been used since the 1930s.

Williams "certainly had no roots in any part of the Wilder country," wrote Harper editor Ursula Nordstrom years later of the British-born artist, "but as we know, thought-kin is closer than blood-kin, and Garth certainly had all the emotional equipment, as well as the technical, to illustrate these wonderful family books."

Little House on the Prairie dancing
Little House on the Prairie - dancing

"Williams went on a six-month trip to research his drawings, meeting with Wilder in Mansfield, MO, and also journeying to other states where the well-travelled Wilder family lived growing up," said Sandoval. "Little House on the Prairie, set near Independence, KS, has sold eight million copies worldwide and Williams' artwork has played a huge part in that."

In October of last year Heritage sold the original cover art, plus 41 interior drawings, from Charlotte's Web, also illustrated by Williams, in an auction that made more than $155,000.

 

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