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Press Release - May 5, 2015
Alvim Corrêa original illustrations from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds up for bid at Heritage AuctionsDrawings by Brazilian artist Henrique Alvim Corrêa set the stage for modern science fiction aliens
"There was nothing like them before Henrique Alvim Corrêa put his vision to paper for the 1906 edition, the first Special Edition publication ofThe War of the Worlds. Pretty much everything you see in science fiction art involving death rays and aliens that followed, one could argue, was inspired by this relatively unsung hero of the genre," said Stefan Gefter, who consigned the collection to Heritage.
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 by Warwick Goble 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.
Enter Henrique Alvim Corrêa, a struggling Brazilian artist living in Boitsfort, Belgium. Corrêa was born into an aristocratic Brazilian family who had fled to Europe shortly after Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1888. Training as a military artist, he eventually exhibited at the Salon de Paris. 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).
After reading the Davray (French) edition of The War of the Worlds, 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 that he invited Corrêa to illustrate the 500-copy, limited edition published in 1906 by L'Vandamme (Brussels).
This edition is highly prized and praised for Corrêa's Art Nouveau, "steampunk" stylized artwork and its production excellence, such as a pencil and ink on paperboard done for the book premier, Livre Premier: L'arrivée des Martiens (est. $20,000+) , which also appears as the Title Page of the book. A drawing titled Martian Fighting Machine Hit by Shell(est. $8,000+) shows humans fighting back against their tripod invaders. Other haunting images represent Corrêa's reimagining of the aliens themselves as crawling brain-like creatures, such as Martian Emerges, 1906 (est. $8,000+).
Since 1906, 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.
Tragically, Corrêa died from tuberculosis in 1910 at age 34. During World War II, much of his art, while being transported back to Brazil, was destroyed by a German U-boat. However, 31 of the original large-format War of the Worlds drawings, rare promotional poster announcing the arrival of the book in 1906, and a postcard from Wells to Corrêa survived the war, all of which appear at auction at Heritage May 14.
"Whereas today's artists have 100 years of art and literature to draw from," Gefter said, "this fellow had nothing other than the images in his head. That makes these historical pieces, above and beyond just really imaginative drawings."
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