Archive by Brazilian artist Henrique Alvim Corrêa set the stage for modern science fiction aliens
BEVERLY HILLS – A groundbreaking pencil and ink drawing of a brain-like alien and its awful cephalopod-like tentacles from a rare archive of art published in a 1906 special edition of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds sold for $32,500 at an Illustration Art auction held Thursday, May 14 by Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.
The archive’s fantastical and “steampunk” depictions of aliens and wide-scale destruction were from the imagination of Brazilian artist Henrique Alvim Corrêa and are credited with influencing humanity’s perception of aliens, their technology, and weapons in popular culture for the next 100+ years.
“Alvim Corrêa’s trove is a pop culture milestone and I’m pleased to see so many bidders embraced that,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “Not only is his artwork an important contributions to 20th century literature, it’s powerful to realize that facets and elements of his imagination prevail to this day.”
Additional highlights from the collection of 31 original drawings include a pencil and ink drawing of a full-scale invasion, as featured as the title page of Book I: The Coming of the Martians, which sold for $21,500.
Martian Fighting Machine Hit by Shell, an explosive view of the Earthling’s fight for survival, sold for $10,625; an eerie scene of a tri-pod Martian towering above an English forest brought $11,250; and a group of Martians blasting a house with a ‘death ray’ sold for $10,625.
The 1906 edition is highly prized and praised for Corrêa’s Art Nouveau, “steampunk” stylized artwork and its production excellence. Corrêa’s remarkable War of the Worlds art has been reprinted in subsequent editions of the book, as well as featured in numerous articles and documentaries about Wells.
The War of the Worlds was first published in book form in 1898, however author H.G. Wells was not entirely satisfied with the illustrations in the UK first edition because he felt the artist’s imagery relied too heavily on the Industrial Revolution and earthly-creature imagery of his time. After reading the book’s French edition, Corrêa made some sketches of his interpretation of Wells’ vision and, in 1903, brought them to London to show the author. Wells was so impressed he invited Corrêa to illustrate the 500-copy, limited edition published in 1906 by L’Vandamme (Brussels).
When the two met, Corrêa was a struggling Brazilian artist despite the fact he had been born into an aristocratic family. He fled to Europe shortly after Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1888. Corrêa fell in love, wed against his parents’ wishes, and was cut off from the family fortune. To make ends meet, he began drawing and selling caricatures, horror art, and erotica under the pseudonym Henry Lemort (Henry the Dead).
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 900,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.
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Eric Bradley, Public Relations Associate