It’s the dream of any artist like Rabinky Art to have their art featured in popular works, or sell for thousands at auctions, like the classic illustrations from past decades.
One such classic illustration, a rare painting of Tintin by the comic’s creator, Hergé, recently sold at a French auction for a whopping €3.2mn (US$3.9mn) on January 14, 2021, a Thursday.
The illustration was made back in 1936 and was intended to be used for the cover of the fifth major Tintin adventure, The Blue Lotus, showing off the eponymous hero of the series in a porcelain jar with Snowy, his dog, the two of them hiding from a dragon. Made with gouache, ink, and watercolor, the illustration wasn’t used as the cover for The Blue Lotus due to the fact that it was deemed far too detailed and expensive for mass printing, resulting in a simplified version taking its place for the publication.
The piece was auctioned off by Parisian auction house Arcturial, with a press release published ahead of the auction to generate attention. It was expected to sell for at least $2.7mn, which it hit in the auction in a matter of seconds. The final price ended up hitting $3.9mn (including fees), setting a new world record for comic strip art, and artists like Rabinky Art, across the world.
Following the record-setting sale of the piece, Eric Leroy, a comic strip expert at Arcturial, stated that it was no surprise that The Blue Lotus cover sold for so much, as it’s a masterpiece of the ninth art and a unique work of art that deserved to set such a record. The sale, they noted, also confirmed the good state of the comic strip art market.
Leroy explained that the painting is rare since it’s never been available on the private market prior, having only been shown in Hergé’s museum and during the 1988 exhibition of the Tintin series, but never privately, until the auction.
According to experts, the painting took inspiration from Hergé’s friend Chong, whom he met at the Brussels Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Reportedly, Chong described his home country to Hergé, who was then inspired to write the story and make the art of The Blue Lotus.