Wind In The Willows illustration sells at auction for more than £33,000

The pencil and ink drawing by Ernest Howard Shepard was created around 1931 to illustrate the children’s novel by Kenneth Grahame.

An original illustration for Wind in the Willows, showing Mr Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole outside Toad Hall, has sold at auction for £33,644. (Cheffins auctioneers/ PA)
An original illustration for Wind in the Willows, showing Mr Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole outside Toad Hall, has sold at auction for £33,644. (Cheffins auctioneers/ PA)

An original illustration for Wind In The Willows, showing Mr Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole outside Toad Hall, has sold at auction for £33,644.

The pencil and ink drawing by Ernest Howard Shepard was created around 1931 to illustrate the children’s novel by Kenneth Grahame.

It was sold to a UK-based trade buyer at Cheffins auctioneers in Cambridge on Wednesday, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £12,000.

The drawing has been in private hands since it was acquired by the family of the current owner 69 years ago and was recently rediscovered hanging on the stairs of an East Anglian country house.

Titled ‘Swaggering down the Steps’, the illustration depicts Mr Toad coming down the steps of Toad Hall clad in motoring attire to be greeted by Ratty, Badger and Mole.

It is inscribed in the margins with instructions for the printer.

An original illustration for Wind in the Willows, showing Mr Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole outside Toad Hall, has sold at auction for £33,644. (Cheffins auctioneers/ PA)
An original illustration for Wind In The Willows, showing Mr Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole outside Toad Hall, has sold at auction for £33,644 (Cheffins auctioneers/PA)

Nicolas Martineau, a director at Cheffins, said: “We are delighted with this fantastic result which goes to show the enduring popularity of works by this most iconic of illustrators.

“This wonderful image has all that you could wish for as far as a scene from The Wind In The Willows is concerned featuring the protagonist Toad with motor car outside Toad Hall being confronted by Ratty, Badger and Mole and illustrates one of the most memorable and amusing passages from the story.

“This work saw a great deal of pre-sale interest as we expected and this strong result is a testament to Shepard’s skill and brilliance”.

E. H. Shepard was first asked to illustrate The Wind In the Willows in 1931, following his success in providing drawings for Punch magazine and later, A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.

He was introduced to Grahame by Milne himself, and Shepard is recorded to have remembered his first meeting with the author at his home at Church Cottage, Pangbourne, Berkshire fondly.

As detailed in Carolyn Hares-Stryker’s book, ‘The Illustrators Of The Wind In The Willows, 1908-2008,’ Grahame reportedly said of his characters to Shepard, ‘I love these little people, be kind to them’.

The novelist described the local meadows, rivers, and woods where he’d drawn inspiration for his story.

Shepard set off to sketch the places Grahame had described and these formed the basis of Shepard’s visioning for Grahame’s text.

Shepard recalled his final visit with Grahame before his death in 1932, saying ‘I went to his home and was able to show him some of the results of my work, though critical, he seemed pleased and, chuckling, said, ‘I’m glad you’ve made them real.’

The current auction record for E.H Shepard was for a framed ink drawing of The Original Map of the Hundred Acre Wood from A.A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh which made £430,000 in 2018, Cheffins said.

The price reported is the total, inclusive of buyers’ premium at 24.5% plus VAT (29.4%).

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