The original illustrations of the classic children's book Charlotte's Web was seen by no one, until now. The book's illustrator Garth Williams kept most of his illustrations for his own, personal collection. When Williams first starting doing illustrations in the 1940s, he would send the original drawings to the publisher, they would get used and then sent back. He kept his returned art during his lifetime. After his death, the family carefully preserved his oeuvre, securing it in a bank vault.
Now the Williams estate is making the art available to collectors for the first time. On Oct 15, 42 of the original Garth Williams illustrations for Charlotte’s Web were put up at a New York auction. All of them were sold off fetching a combined total of $780,245.
Published in 1952, Charlotte’s Web was named the best-selling children’s paperback of all time by Publisher’s Weekly in 2000. Few children’s books have had as much of an impact on pop culture as much as E.B. White’s 1952 book Charlotte’s Web, featuring Williams’ sublime drawings of Wilbur the pig, Fern, the young girl who loves him and one very clever spider named Charlotte who saves him from slaughter.
The Cover Page: the original graphite-and-ink drawing of Charlotte holding Wilbur made by Garth Williams in 1952 was sold for $155,350, more than six times the pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. "For it to break $150,000 is breathtaking. It just shows how universally beloved this book and this art really are," said Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions.
Fern bottle-feeding Wilbur as a piglet, sold for $19,120.
The illustration of Wilbur looking triumphant under the web where Charlotte has written “TERRIFIC” sold for $95,600.