A 1936 “Tintin” cover rejected crowned as the most expensive comic strip in the world for € 3.2 million | Auction news | THE VALUE

By: Crystal Wong

January 18, 2021 | Mon | 19:27

A rare “Tintin” painting by Belgian designer Hergé was sold in Paris last week for 3.2 million euros ($ 3.8 million), breaking its previous record and is now establishing itself as the most popular comic strip. dear to the world.

The blue lotus was originally created as the cover of Hergé’s fifth volume of comic book journalist Tintin’s very first adventure in China, in the midst of the Japanese invasion in the 1930s. The storyline follows Tintin’s courageous mission to break up the international opium trafficking network in China.

Hergé (1907-1983) | The Blue Lotus, 1936

India ink, watercolor and gouache on paper

Dimensions: 34x34cm

Provenance: Jean-Paul Casterman Collection, Belgium, and from there by descent

Estimate: 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 €

Realized price: € 3,175,400 (USD 3,831,000)

Auction house: Artcurial Paris

Date of sale: January 14, 2021

take a closer look The blue lotus, 1936

The present work received a pre-sale estimate of 2-3 million euros and was sold for almost 3.2 million euros (US $ 3.8 million) with a premium last week, during a sale led by French auction house Artcurial, eclipsing the previous record of 2.6 euros. m cover pages, also from Hergé, auctioned in 2014.

Georges Rémi’s world-famous “The Adventures of Tintin” comic series, which would later bear the pen name of Hergé, debuted as a weekly comic strip in a Belgian newspaper in 1929 and ended up turned into a total of 24 comic books. The series has been translated into over 110 languages, with over 270 million copies sold.

Cover pages of the “Adventures of Tintin”, circa 1937-1958

Sold € 2,654,400 (US $ 3,621,734) at Artcurial Paris, May 2014

The cover of the magazine with the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong, who inspired the present work

The 1936 gouache painting was rejected by Louis Casterman, the artist’s publisher at the time, because it was deemed too expensive to reproduce the work with the four-color process used in 1936. Hergé ultimately gifted the work to the publisher’s son, who hid it away in his drawer until it was found decades later.

The original cover of “The Blue Lotus” replaced by a simpler design

This particular volume in the series is considered one of the most important in the artist’s career. “The Blue Lotus” marks a breakthrough in the representation by the Belgian designer of a foreign soil, infusing the aesthetics of the East in the work. Hergé turned to Zhang Chongren, a Chinese art student, to learn more about the country so that his work could go beyond stereotypes common in the 1930s.

Exchanges with Zhang not only gave Hergé a better idea of ​​what China was like, but fostered a much deeper cultural understanding and gave new dimensions to Tintin’s world. The two later became lifelong friends and Zhang also appeared in the stories as Tchang Tchong-Jen, Tintin’s new sidekick in both “The Blue Lotus” and “Tintin in Tibet” of the series. comical.

From left to right: Hergé, his wife Germaine Kieckens and Zhang Chongren

The 1936 illustration also acted as a catalyst for the artistic style clear line – French for “ligne claire”, for which Hergé is known. The backdrop that makes up Tintin’s world is often rendered realistically while the main characters are depicted in simple lines without hatching. The juxtaposition brings the audience alive to the parameters of the story.

“This allowed the artist to discover a remarkable fluidity and freedom evident in his treatment of light and dark, through the brushstrokes he used for form and space, expressing the ‘evolution of Hergé’s thought and of Taoism ”, declared Eric Leroy, Comic strip expert at Artcurial. in a report.

Daniel K. Denny