SENDAK, MAURICE Group of eighteen drawings by Maurice Sendak
on illustrator's board for Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff and Hyman Ruchlis Atomics for the Millions, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1947. The drawings range from 12 x 9 inches (23 x 30 cm), down to 3 x 3 inches (8 x 8 cm), rendered in black ink with touches of Chinese white on illustrator's board; Together with two copies of the contract between the authors and the illustrator, signed by all three; And the contract between McGraw-Hill and the authors. Minor wear and soiling, various markings pertaining to reproduction, most on the versos, the group overall in fine condition.
Atomics for the Millions contains Maurice Sendak's earliest published book illustrations. As the contract shows, these were done for an advance of $100, with a one percent royalty on the sales receipts of the book. Hyman Ruchlis, the co-author, was a teacher at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, and commissioned the young Sendak to illustrate the book (reportedly, a passing grade was also part of the deal, but this is not mentioned in the contract). Sendak was just over eighteen when this was signed, and would not illustrate another book for four more years.
The illustrations predate the development of Sendak's characteristic style, which would not form for at least another ten or fifteen years, but they are exceptionally accomplished for the work of one so young. In addition to various semi-cartoon diagrams of nuclear and chemical processes. They include a fine drawing of Marie Curie, another of Einstein contemplating the equivalence of matter and energy, an alchemist at work etc.
We are unaware of any drawings from this earliest stage of the artist's career appearing at auction. Even the Rosenbach Library does not have any of these, Sendak's earliest published drawings, in their extensive collection of the artist.
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