Honus Wagner Children's Book Illustration Original Painting by Jim Burke

Sold For: $11,750

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1316

Item Year: 2010

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Original oil-on-board painting of Honus Wagner by Jim Burke used as an interior illustration for the just-published children's book All Star! - Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever (Philomel Books, New York, 2010). Signed by the artist in the lower left corner.

All Star! - Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever , written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke, is a lavishly illustrated book intended for young readers that chronicles the life of Honus Wagner. Of course, no biography of Wagner would be complete without discussing his famous T206 tobacco card and in this new work, Burke brings that subject to life with the painting presented here, which features Wagner posing at the famed Carl Horner Studios for the photo that was used to produce his famous T206 card. As is his trademark, Burke's attention to historical detail is extraordinary. Seen from the perspective of a passerby on the street, Wagner is seated in uniform as Horner focuses the camera on his subject. Horner's name is stylishly painted on the front window, while samples of his work are pictured on display throughout his establishment. A number of young boys on the street, bats and gloves in hand, have halted their travels to stop and watch as the legendary "Flying Dutchman" sits for his portrait. While his artistic skills are self evident, it's the manner in which Jim Burke chose to tell the story of the card, focusing on its humble beginnings rather than the card itself, as well as its quality and attention to historical detail, that truly distinguish this piece as a modern classic.

This painting has been consigned at our request directly by the artist. Jim Burke is one of America's most celebrated children's book illustrators. His work is instantly recognizable and has illustrated popular modern children's classics. Jim Burke contacted Robert Edward Auctions not to sell his paintings (they are normally sold only at galleries) but to inquire whether we might be able to supply some photos of Honus Wagner items for use in the design of the endpaper of the Wagner book. We were happy to be of assistance, it was an honor to be asked, and in our communications he sent us a few images of paintings from the book. When we saw this one, we were simply floored! We were so amused by it that we shared it with many others, and everyone reacted similarly. This painting brought a smile to the face of everyone who saw it. We asked Mr. Burke if if would be possible to offer this painting (and one other) in the auction, so that we could share it with the entire collecting world. As can be seen here, as a courtesy for our efforts he was happy to honor our special request, and it is a privilege to include this original Jim Burke painting in the auction, and to be able to share it with all our readers.

Jim Burke's celebrated artwork brings to life many Americana stories, events and characters. Naming Liberty (Philomel Books, 2008) and Johnny Appleseed (Harper Collins, 2008), both written by Jane Yolen, were accepted into The Original Art Show in New York City, the premier exhibition for the year's best-illustrated children's books. Jim has also authored Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Little, Brown, 2006) coinciding with Jack Norworth's original lyrics, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly . My Brothers' Flying Machine (Little, Brown, 2003), also in collaboration with the talented Jane Yolen, won an Oppenheim Children's Portfolio Gold, as well as a Parents' Choice Gold Award. A Christmas Gift for Mama (Scholastic, 2003) written by Lauren Thompson, received an Oppenheim Children’s Portfolio Platinum Award. Burke, a Manchester, New Hampshire, native, received his first picture-book contract upon graduating from Syracuse University in 1996: Poetry for Young People: Walt Whitman (Sterling Publishing, 1997) received critical praise, and is still in print today.

Jim Burke's artwork was shown in The Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition 2008 in London, and has been included in the Society of Illustrators' forthcoming Icons & Images: 50 Years of Illustration. He is a Gold Medal recipient from the Society of Illustrators, has had five of his books honored at The Original Art Show (NYC) and is included in their Museum of American Illustration Permanent Collection.

He has also received accolades from Communication Arts, 3x3, Graphis, The New York Art Director’s Club and Print’s Regional Design. Jim has taught at Pratt Institute and Syracuse University, and has lectured at The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and The National Baseball Hall of Fame, among others. Jim Burke is currently the Illustration Chairperson at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. The painting (24 x 17 inches) displays a few editorial markings on the front and is otherwise in Mint condition. Together with an unbound proof copy of the book. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $11,750

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