Lot 16
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Estimation :
800000 - 1200000 EUR
GEORGES REMI DIT HERGÉ (1907-1983) Ottokar's Sceptre Original line plates on pages 97 and 98 (black and white version), both on the same sheet of drawing paper, published in Le Petit Vingtième, July 20, 1939. India ink, watercolor, gouache and graphite. Signed. H 39.8 x W 60 cm History : Le Sceptre d'Ottokar was first pre-published in Le Petit Vingtième, from August 4, 1938 to August 10, 1939, before being published as an album by Éditions Casterman in 1939. Provenance and condition : Private collection (acquired 45 years ago). Piece in perfect condition, protected from light, between acid-free paper sheets. Status: The piece is accompanied by its certificate issued on May 16, 2023 by the Comité d'Authentification des Studios Hergé. All Hergé's art in two pages Rightly considered to be among the most remarkable plates Hergé produced in his own hand for The Sceptre of Ottokar, those on pages 97 and 98, juxtaposed on a large sheet of drawing paper, concentrate multiple key elements of this Tintin Adventure. They also provide a better understanding of the author's position at this crucial moment in European history. Above all, they show a wide range of character expressions, from anger and joy to surprise, questioning and authority. Tintin in 1939 was a fully realized character under Hergé's pen. His spiritual father had found the path he would follow from then on, without the clumsiness and fumbling of his early days. The line to follow is there, clear and unmistakable. Historical context The scenario of Hergé's The Ottokar Sceptre is an account of a failed Anschluss. Inspired by the European history being written, this scenario is much closer than expected to the actual events of the time. Syldavia is none other than Albania, and its ruler, King Muskar XII, finds himself betrayed by Müsstler, a name combining the surnames of Mussolini and Hitler, head of the Steel Guard. Hergé urged his publisher Casterman to publish the album before the end of 1939. In a letter dated June 12, 1939, he wrote to his friend Charles Lesne, editorial director: "If you've followed the story a little, you'll see that it's completely based on current events. Syldavia is Albania. A full-scale annexation is being prepared. If we want to take advantage of current events, now is the time." By the time this double plate appeared in the July 20, 1939 issue of Le Petit Vingtième, featuring the mythical scene of Snowy's arrival in the palace hall, Hitler's troops had already invaded a large part of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia) in mid-March. Mussolini, for his part, led a military campaign against Albania in early April, and the decree annexing this small country to Italy was signed on April 12, after an invasion campaign lasting less than a week. On May 22 (Hergé's birthday!), a mutual assistance agreement was signed between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It's clear that the publication of these plates, which point the finger at the culprit(s) behind the troubles in this part of the world - yes, Müsstler - is very topical. The album was first published in November 1939, but unfortunately the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, which triggered the Second World War and a paper shortage, limited the print run, and production did not resume until 1941. Dialogues and graphic details Dialogues are written in capital letters, in line with the standard of the time. In subsequent editions, however, they will be written in lower case. The shapes of the phylacteries broadly follow the rules of clear line in the sense that they are integrated into the graphics to contribute to the readability and fluidity of the story, with the two notable exceptions already mentioned. Noteworthy is the use of white, which highlights the king's boots, but also authorizes a few repentirs (the rooster's wing) and allows Tintin's quiff and the drops of surprise to emerge against the black background of the bedwood. The rendering of the astrakhan on the King's suit (collar and cuffs) is very effective, given the economy of means employed; the treatment of the surface of the Minister's pants in the lower left vignette is also particularly original: rather than using gray or black, Hergé chose to draw alternating solid or interrupted vertical lines that do not follow the movement of the garment, a unique solution in this album and one that works very well here. These last two details show how the
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