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    Description

    Dr. Seuss. "The Sweetest Story Ever Told. Matilda the Compassionate Elefant Who Devotes her Days to the Hatching of Orphan Humming-Bird Eggs." Original pen and ink drawing, circa 1938. Measures 10.5 x 6.5 inches; 267 x 165 mm, on 11 x 8.5-inch paper. Framed and glazed, not examined out of frame. Fine.

    A charming illustration of Matilda, an early version of Dr. Seuss's Horton, here seated contentedly above the caption, "Matilda The Compassionate Elefant Who Devotes her Days to the Hatching of Orphan Humming Bird Eggs."

    In 1938, Theodor Seuss Geisel, known better by his pen name Dr. Seuss, published a one-page story in the humor magazine Judge titled, "Matilda, the Elephant with a Mother Complex. A Dr. Seuss Fable." This iteration of Horton features Matilda and her ill-advised decision to sit patiently on a chickadee egg. After she successfully hatches the chickadee, she "cried out in terror... and flapped off frantically," ending with the moral, "Don't go hatching other folks' eggs." The tale does not end as happily for Matilda as it later will for Horton in Horton Hatches the Egg.

    In an interview in 1972, Geisel would claim the idea for Horton came to him after he left his window open and the wind blew a picture of an elephant on top of a picture with a tree. "All I had to do was figure out what the elephant was doing in that tree." A charming story and, while not exactly the same premise as the Judge art, suggests the idea for Matilda and Horton had been around for some time.

    Provenance: gifted by Dr. Seuss to Harvey Poe, Jr., son of the manager of a hotel in Brookline, Maine where Seuss vacationed. Apparently given to Poe as a child in the mid-1920s; although based on the timeline above, it seems more likely the painting was gifted closer to the publication date of the Judge story in 1938.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    16th Wednesday
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