“Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” by Beni Montresor sold for $531 at Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art auction on June 9, 2022 in New York City. Montresor was described as a versatile artist—he was equally known and renowned for his opera set and costume designs as he was for his children’s book illustrations.
The New York Times described Montresor’s set designs as “jungle animals that prowl the stage resemble magnified Steiff toys come to life.” His designs for the ballet and opera inspired his illustrations, which were in a variety of mediums and had a bright and dynamic quality to them. He was also inspired by the very children who read his books, often bringing his books and sitting among the children to see their reactions.
Born in the Italian village of Bussolengo in 1926, Montresor spent his Christmas vacation in the United States in 1960 and liked New York so much that he decided to stay. As a result, Montresor split his time between his residences in New York City and Italy. Both countries have recognized his talent and work; the Italian government knighted him in 1966 for his contributions to the arts, and he also won the 1965 Caldecott medal for U.S. picture book illustration. We wonder if Montresor had some savvy estate planning in place given the likely tax implications of his residency in both countries (though things were probably a bit simpler in the pre-FATCA days!)
Some of our other favorites, from Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art auction on June 9, 2022 in New York City, can be found throughout the issue.