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Estimate: $ 25,000 - $ 35,000
MEAD SCHAEFFER. "He raised a gull-like cry in the air. 'There she blows - there she blows! A hump like a snowhill! It is Moby Dick!'" Frontispiece and dust jacket illustration for "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville (New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1922). Oil on canvas. 365x762 mm; 38x30 inches. Unsigned. Framed. Provenance: American Illustrators Gallery to present owner, 1998.
"Moby Dick" was considered a commercial failure when it was first published in 1851. Victorian sensibilities of the day found the novel to be "verbose, chaotic, and even blasphemous." Herman Melville subsequently died in relative obscurity. It was not until the 1920s that his work was rediscovered. At a time where creativity was celebrated and the status quo was in question, historians deemed Melville to have simply been ahead of his time. In 1922, the publishers at Dodd and Mead commissioned Mead Schaeffer, a then 24-year-old artist, to illustrate a series of classic novels. This iconic and dramatic image undoubtedly helped perpetuate Melville's revival and launched Schaeffer's long and prolific career. -- Rollyson, Carl and Lisa Paddock, "Herman Melville A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work" (New York: Facts on File, 2001).
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