A design by Hergé for the cover of Tintin’s album ‘Le Lotus bleu’ on Thursday broke the world auction record for comics. It was sold for 3.175 million euros including costs, announced the Artcurial house.
‘After a bidding battle between three phones, this coveted masterpiece finally soared to 3,175,400 euros,’ the auction house reported in a statement. The buyer is a ‘private collector’.
Sold by the Casterman family in Paris, this 1936 drawing, in India ink, gouache and watercolor, with a black background, was ultimately deemed too thin and complex for the comic strip to be printed. It has been replaced by a simpler red background design.
The history of this drawing remains mysterious. According to the heirs, it had been offered by the Belgian designer, Georges Rémi of his real name, to the son of the publisher Louis Casterman, Jean-Paul, aged seven, who had folded it in six and put it in a drawer. . Experts question the veracity of this story, particularly the story of Jean-Paul Casterman, difficult to verify nowadays.
Turning point in Hergé’s work
For several Tintin experts, the fold marks on the sheet of paper are the work of the author himself, who slipped the drawing into an envelope to send it to the deputy director of the publishing house. The drawing would have remained since 1936, with many others, on deposit with Casterman.
The ‘Blue Lotus’ is one of the masterpieces of the Belgian designer, inspired by his meeting with a young Chinese graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, Tchang Tchong-Jen, who will remain his faithful friend. The album marks a turning point in Hergé’s work. The boards appeared in 1934 and 1935 in the review ‘Petit-Vingtième’, before the album’s publication in 1936, and were immediately seen as a major work in the history of comics.
The previous record was 2.51 million euros (costs included again) for the design of the cover pages of Tintin’s albums, at Artcurial in 2014.