Friday, May 24, 2019


Perhaps one of the most recognized images ever created by Frank Frazetta, "Egyptian Queen", sold at auction last week for a world-record $5,400,000. The 1969 painting was first used on the cover of Warren Publishing's EERIE #23, then later on the cover of CREEPY #92.

Warren returned Frazetta's work to him after publication and this particular piece remained in the Frazetta family for all these years. Always finding ways to make his images better, he painted different versions of  his works -- but not this one. Instead, he retouched the painting after it was given back to him (as discussed in the description below).

I remember being so enthralled with the perfection of this image that I purchased the poster and it hung in my sanctum for many years. A true American masterpiece.

Here is the press release from Heritage Auctions:

Egyptian Queen by Artist Frank Frazetta Sets $5.4 Million World Record at Heritage Auctions
DALLAS, Texas (May 16, 2019) — The 1969 fantasy painting Egyptian Queen, one of the most legendary artworks by famed artist Frank Frazetta, sold for a world record $5.4 million Thursday, May 16, at a public auction of vintage comic books and comic art held by Heritage Auctions in Chicago, Illinois. 

The painting bests the world record as the most expensive piece of original comic book art ever sold at public auction. The previous record was the $1.79 million paid for Frazetta's Death Dealer 6, 1990, which was set by Heritage in May 2018

The masterpiece is credited more than any other with revolutionizing fantasy illustration in American art. Egyptian Queen first appeared in print as the cover for Eerie magazine #23 in mid-1969, and as multiple prints and posters over subsequent decades. 

The winning bidder does not wish to be identified at this time.

The painting has been in the possession of Frazetta's family ever since it was created 50 years ago, and Thursday was the first time it was made available for private ownership in Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction. In addition to a world record, the painting also set a house record as the most expensive item ever sold by Heritage Auctions, surpassing a luxury Dallas estate, which closed for $4.95 million in 2016.

"This result elevates Frank Frazetta's art into the stratosphere of visual narrative art on a par with the likes of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and other luminaries," Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite said. 

Lot #91027 Description:
Frank Frazetta Egyptian Queen Painting Original Art (1969). For a man known for his exquisite paintings, this is quite possibly his single most famous piece... the artist's "Mona Lisa"... the enigmatic, beloved, and often imitated "Egyptian Queen" herself, a haunting image that legions of admirers have returned to time and time again.

Having taken the comic book and newspaper strip worlds by storm in the 1950s and early 1960s, Frank Frazetta had already had a more successful career than most artists could even dream of before turning his otherworldly talents to book and comic cover fantasy artwork in the mid-1960s. In short order, he reinvented and massively expanded the entire field of fantasy illustration, single-handedly selling hundreds of thousands of books and scores of wildly popular posters along the way.

Frazetta would produce some of his most incredible work during this period with each piece helping to hone his craft, leading up to this spectacular painting in 1969, the peak of the artist's creative powers. While Frazetta would continue to produce paintings for another 30 years, this unforgettable image captured the hearts of legions and remains burned into the minds of generations. The Egyptian Queen first appeared in print as the cover for Eerie magazine #23 in mid-1969, and as multiple prints and posters over subsequent decades.

The luster of the paint, especially on the marble column and the supple form of the Queen herself, created an amazingly realistic and almost hypnotizing effect... pulling the viewer into the world of Queen Nefera. Her lovely printed skirt, a veritable peacock's plume, drapes seductively down the steps in this incredibly powerful and lushly painted composition. Frank Frazetta had the absolutely unique ability to paint what he envisioned in his mind (the main reason his preliminaries for works were so seemingly simple and tiny), going directly to the canvas with no tracing, no finished drawing, to paint what he saw in his mind's eye. To say this is a rare gift is a huge understatement - no other artist has been able to convey this same immediacy. It is especially exemplified in the works where Frazetta was asked to paint whatever he pleased, with the publisher then commissioning a story written to reflect the painted image. The result was always a unique, dynamic image that above all else rivets attention and elicits a visceral reaction from the viewer.

Although Frazetta would revise many of his published works from this era even years after publication, in this instance he seemed to know that The Egyptian Queen was an unqualified masterpiece from the outset. Immediately upon receiving the piece back from publisher Warren in 1969, Frazetta made only very slight and subtle changes, softening the Queen's eyes to make them even more resonant, thus creating this definitive, strikingly wistful visage that has become indelibly fixed in all fans' minds from the scores of prints, posters, and publications of all sorts over many decades, including the painting's iconic 1977 publication as the cover of Creepy #92. This masterpiece has resided with the Frazetta family since its creation, so this is the first time it has ever been offered on the market.

Although Frazetta typically worked on solid surfaces such as canvas wrapped board or pressboard, this piece was masterfully crafted in oil on a 20" x 26" stretched canvas. It has been open front framed to 24" x 30", and it is signed and dated in the lower left of the 19.75" x 25.5" image area. There are some minor drips (it is unclear if they are stains or paint drips) that are all-but-invisible unless viewed with a UV light source, and there are a few tiny white specks in the image area, as well as minor surface wear commensurate with age. There exists minor inpainting, primarily near the margins, only visible under UV light and most likely by the artist's hand. The painting presents beautifully with incredible eye appeal and is in Very Good to Excellent condition.

No comments: