BEAUTIFUL ORIGINAL ANIMATION CEL FROM THE TELEVISION CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, SIMPLE GIFTS, INSCRIBED BY SENDAK TO A CLOSE FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR
SENDAK, Maurice. Original animation cel inscribed [Simple Gifts]. [Ridgefield, Connecticut],1979. Color animation cel, measuring 12-1/2 by 10 inches; handsomely matted and framed, entire piece measures 13-1/2 by 13-1/2 inches. $5500.
Beautiful original animation cel from the Christmas television special, Simple Gifts, featuring a boy in tattered historical dress, inscribed by Sendak to a close friend and neighbor: "For Elizabeth, Happy Birthday! Maurice Sendak. Oct: 79."
This animation cel was created for the 1977 television special, Simple Gifts, a collection of six short films narrated by Colleen Dewhurst that were meant to encourage viewers to think about the meaning of Christmas. Sendak was responsible for the animated sequence entitled, "Prologue." Set to melancholy piano music, it tells the story of a boy in tattered 18th-century-esque dress struggling to walk through wind and cold before sprouting a single candle from his head and eventually turning into a Christmas tree. As a Christmas tree, he provides delight and shelter for two other children. This cel holds particular interest as certain character features appear in other Sendak work. In his 1969 cover illustration for The Children's Friend, a magazine for young readers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he uses similar historical dress including the swallow-tail coat, light-colored waistcoast, and non-matching breeches. In his 1993 illustration for We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, Sendak dresses Jack in a similar pink dress coat and tattered breeches, while Jack's yellow t-shirt substitutes for the yellow waistcoat. The former owner of this inscribed cel was Maurice Sendak's neighbor, Andrew, from Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sendak bought a home and studio in Ridgefield in 1972 with his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, and lived there until his death. Andrew first encountered Sendak in 1975 during one of his daily dog walks. (Sendak owned many dogs throughout his life, and they often starred in his books.) Andrew was immediately taken with Sendak, who reminded him of his recently deceased father. One day, Andrew called Sendak at home and asked if he could join him on his walks. Andrew and Sendak thus embarked on a 37-year friendship that also included the Andrew's mother, Betty, as well as Andrew's brother. Sendak went on long walks and hikes with Andrew and his family regularly, discussing general life events, opera, and books. He also invited them into his studio to show off works in progress. Andrew's mother, Betty, was an avid reader and collector and she and Sendak would talk late into the night about books. Sendak offered Betty advice about how to find and authenticate rare children's books, which she used to build her collection. Additionally, he frequently bartered for autographs (i.e. a cake for an inscribed drawing featuring the cake). Sendak often referred to Betty as "Elizabeth" in inscriptions as he felt that "Betty" was too common a name. The many inscribed drawings, along with first editions, signed books, and other valuable items grew into one of the country's premier Sendak collections. "x8" written at bottom of cel, beneath matting.
Very nearly fine condition.