Gil Elvgren illustrative art tops-off sale featuring Charles Martignette collection

The status of illustrative art as a collectible has never been stronger. That has been proven once more at a major Beverly Hills, California auction on March 1-2.

With a selection of works from the unequalled collection of Charles Martignette, it was clear once more who the unquestioned leader of the pack is amongst the mostly cheeky, titillating and pulp-type works. Gil Elvgren triumphed over all.

Gil Elvgren's I hope the boys don't draw straws tonight
I hope the boys don't draw straws tonight

Of the top ten lots in the auction, seven were creations by Elvgren. The highest lot which was by someone other than Elvgren was a Spicy Stories cover by acknowledged pulp master Hugh Joseph Ward.

The cover depicts a blonde woman in a torn red dress imploring a heavy set foreign-looking gentleman, presumably for him not to use the wicked looking cleaver he holds on either her or her chained male companion. He looks unlikely to be sympathetic.

At $62,500, the cover was fourth in the final tally. Ward has topped off other auctions, notably with his Evil Flame cover.

Hugh Joseph Ward Spicy Adventure Stories cover
Hugh Joseph Ward's Spicy Adventure Stories cover

The expected top lot was Elvgren's I Hope the Boys Don't Draw Straws Tonight - a cheeky piece taken from a 1946 Brown and Bigelow calendar illustration. Listed at $50,000-75,000, it didn't disappoint, achieving $68,000 - but it wasn't the top seller.

Two Elvgren works best it comprehensively. First was his 1967 work Let's Eat Out, presenting a glamorous, pouting housewife conveniently revealing her stocking tops and thighs by lifting her skirt to hold a failed attempt at baking. The claimed $104,500.

Gil Elvgren's Let's eat out
Gil Elvgren's Let's Eat Out

Then there was his most straightforward nude from 1967: Vision of Beauty (Unveiling), presenting a beautiful blonde naked on a red bedspread. This just left the rest standing, selling for $140,500.

Other Elvgren highlights included The Winner (A Fair Catch), showing a buxom woman apple-bobbing which realised $59,375; On the Fence, showing a leggy woman with her skirt, well, on the fence, which realised $59,375 and Everything Seems Awfully High Around Here! depicting a perky, short-skirted waitress which brought $54,688.

Vision of Beauty (Unveiling) Gil Elvgren
Vision of Beauty (Unveiling) by Gil Elvgren

Collectors interested in real pin-ups may wish to take a look at signed glamour photographs we're offering from stock of Goldie Hawn, Brigitte Bardot and Julie McCullogh.

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