Friday, October 18, 2019

P. G. Wodehouse and John R. Neill

P. G. Wodehouse's Roland Bleke - original art by John R. Neill.

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
gouache, watercolor, ink, & Chinese White on paper,
signed "JNO R NEILL"
Image size: 11" x 4"
Paper size: 11.25" x 8 5/16" mounted to thicker sheet of paper 14" x 10.5"

One of the gems of this collection of original art is this multi-media painting by John R. Neill for one of his most important magazine jobs, illustrating "A Man of Means" by P. G. Wodehouse and C. H. Bovill, which was serialized in Pictorial Review from May to October 1916.

Original art for Wodehouse's A Man of Means Click to enlarge.

As printed in magazine (1916).

The original drawing  shows the protagonist of the story, Roland Bleke, described in Neill's own hand: "His chief characteristic was an intense ordinariness." This quote is from fourth paragraph of the story that introduces the main character:

"The young man who entered looked exactly like a second clerk in a provincial seed-merchant’s office—which, strangely enough, he chanced to be. His chief characteristic was an intense ordinariness. He was a young man; and when you had said that of him you had said everything. There was nothing which you would have noticed about him, except the fact that there was nothing to notice. His age was twenty-two and his name was Roland Bleke."

Neill intended this to be the very first image of Roland Bleke the readers would see. In the final magazine layout, this is the fourth illustration, recaptioned, "A voice asked him what he thought he was doing." See printed version of the illustration in photos above (not included in this sale).

The illustration is executed in gouache, watercolor, ink, and Chinese white. The illustration is signed "JNO R NEILL" and in addition to Neill's inked caption there are marks at the top and bottom indicating the drawing should be printed two inches wide. Neill has written the title of the story "Man of Means" and "May / 16" in pencil in the right hand margin. A small Neill family inventory label marked "189" is still present.

Two other drawings by John R. Neill have come to market for this beloved P. G. Wodehouse story one of which sold at auction nearly a decade ago by Bonhams on June 22, 2011, for $9150.00 at Sale 19514 - 20th Century Illustration Art.

Wodehouse's description written in John R. Neill's hand. Click to enlarge.

This is a once in a lifetime chance for fans of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse and the ordinary Roland Bleke!

John R. Neill's signature on the Wodehouse drawing (1916).

Please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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Friday, July 12, 2019

"Marching Fairy Folk"

 While we are offering many lovely pieces by John R. Neill, most are not fantasy images. This charming penicl drawing has a very Ozzy feel to it!
"Marching Fairy Folk" pencil drawing by John R. Neill. $750.00

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pencil on heavy illustration board. Unsigned
Image size: 9.75" x 9.5"
Paper size: 14.75" x 20"

This whimsical pencil drawing by Oz illustrator John R. Neill is for an uncompleted fantasy illustration showing two very Ozzy characters marching with fife and drum!  The older gentleman is wearing a tights and pumpkin hose, and bells on one of his ankles and around his neck; the boy, beating the large drum has a chain of bells trailing down his back. Both cheery fellows have hats with sprigs of holly at the top. Might this have been drawn by Neill for possible use as a Christmas card? In any case it is a charming and somewhat Ozzy fantasy drawing!

"Marching Fairy Folk" by John R. Neill (full image of board). $750.00

The drawing is rendered in pencil or heavy illustration board. There is some staining and discoloration at the edges of the boards but it is not affecting the image area. 

Please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Landscape with Willow

Here we have an unfinished landscape watercolor by John R. Neill showing softly rolling wills, a beautiful willow, and a lake in the distance. 

"Landscape with Willow" by John R. Neill   $500.00 SOLD

"Landscape with Willow"

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943 
Watercolor on heavy watercolor paper, (unfinished and unsigned).
Image size: 22.5 x 14.75"
Board size: 22.5" x 14.75"
$500.00   SOLD

Only the central section with the willow seems to be an a near finished state. The rest of the painting is only loosely begun with various color washes and light pencil work. Matted and framed properly the painting could be extremely attractive even given its unfinished state.

Center detail of "Landscape with Willow" by John R. Neill.

The painting is in good condition with only some light soiling to the edges. The back has a few mathematical scribbles in Neill's hand and he has also been working on some lettering for his eldest daughter's name "NATALIE" for an unknown purpose.

Back of "Landscape with Willow" by John R. Neill.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fairies in the Forest

In today's blog we look at a lovely and ethereal landscape with four fairy-like figures frolicking at the edge of a pale blue lake.

"The Silver Glade" original painting by John R. Neill $1800.00

"The Silver Glade" + Bonus Drawing on back.

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Gouache, watercolor, colored pencil on paper mounted to illustration board, signed "JRN"
Image size: 8.75 x 11"
Board size: 11.25" x 14.25"

This seems to be a piece Neill did for his own pleasure, with no indications it was ever published.
The silvery trees in the foreground are pure Neill - as is the vibrant yet subtle color palette.  

Detail from "The Silver Glade" by John R. Neill

Neill has signed the painting at lower right with his initials "JRN." 

The drawing is in fine condition on a sheet of paper which is mounted to a larger piece of illustration board. 

There is a wonderful BONUS DRAWING on the back of the illustration board.  It shows a handsome young man in a wheel chair, drawn and painted in sepia ink.  

Sepia illustration on the back of "The Silver Glade" by John R. Neill CLICK TO ENLARGE

An irregular glue remnant forms a rectangle that crosses through the bonus artwork of the young man.The subtlety and detail are wonderful!


A paper conservator might be able to separate the plies of the illustration board, resulting in two frame-able images.

Please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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Saturday, April 13, 2019


Here we have a lovely and very detailed pen-and-ink drawing by John R. Neill showing a wealthy young gentleman wearing a striped smoking-jacket, cunningly holding a cigarette holder. 

"After-Wit" Pen-and-Ink drawing by John R. Neill $2000.00

"After Wit" (1921)

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pen-and-Ink on heavy illustration board, signed "JNO R NEILL"
Image size: 13.5" x 11"
Board size: 22" x 13"

This fine drawing was created for the story "After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley, published in the January 1921 issue of Everybody's MagazineNeill's play of light and dark and the various textures he uses are excellent. Look at the detail in the curtains (decorated with assorted birds) and the way Neill drew the smoke, partially obscuring the background. 

Detail from "After-Wit" illustration by John R. Neill (1921).

The drawing is captioned in Neill's hand at lower right, "After-wit / 'Hello, Doc. What do you think of this getting an electric jag? anything in it? —" Additional penciled note: "After Wit - Everybodys N. S. 1055 5 - 4."

The drawing is on a large sheet of heavy illustration board. It is in very good condition. There is a small Neill family inventory sticker "99" at lower right above caption.

"After-Wit" Pen-and-Ink drawing by John R. Neill $2000.00

 The drawing is signed "JNO R NEILL."

As mentioned above, the story "After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley, was published in the January 1921 issue of Everybody's Magazine. You can see the drawing as published below.
Neill's drawing for "After-Wit" as published in EVERYBODYS MAGAZINE.

The author of "After-Wit" is Nalbro Isadorah Bartley. She was born in Buffalo, New York, November 10, 1888. She was an American short story writer and newspaper columnist. She died on September 7, 1952. You can read the entire story and see Neill's other fine illustrations for it below. Click on each of the images to enlarge them for easier reading. Enjoy!

"After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley
Illustrated by John R. Neill
Published in Everybody's Magazine, January 1921

Click on the pages below to enlarge them for reading.

"After-Wit" Page 1 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 2 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 3 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 4 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 5 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 6 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 7 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 8 - Click to Enlarge

We have many fine original drawings by John R. Neill at our online store.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Flower Fairies

By John R. Neill
Originally published in The Housewife, May 1916.

This is a short piece both written and illustrated by John R. Neill.
 Click on any of the illustrations to enlarge them.

Of course, you have gathered the soft pink and white flowers that grow in May, and some with spots of red and stripes of gold.

When you gather them again, look very carefully into their faces and remember how hard the fairies have worked to get the colors right; for before you gather them, those little creatures have worked from early morning with brush and scissors, planning and clipping and cutting. Sometimes they use yellow and pink powders, pearls and diamonds, soft silks stretched over laces, all sewed carefully around the edges.

Those flower fairies sing and dance all day with the birds, and their work is almost play to them.

One very old fairy man, whose business it is to chase away the worms and hard-headed beetles, usually sits on a rock at the edge of the woods. He gives the alarm when the children are coming, and always seems sullen and quiet. Some say he is very disagreeable, and when no other fairy is around to see him, he has been known to poke his cane right through some of the prettiest flowers.

You can at times see very small holes in the flowers. These you will know he has made. But he does not do it often, only when he is feeling out of sorts.

When all the brushes of the fairies are broken, the birds will give them a feather or two from, which they make new brushes in no time.

All their days go quickly and happily, and at night each fairy climbs into the flower she likes best, and the petals close themselves like shutters, holding their little passengers lightly and comfortably swinging until morning.

And whenever a fairy has slept, that flower has the fragrance of its fairy which always stays, and that is all we really know of these wonderful little people.

—John R. Neill

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

John R. Neill onboard the ARGOSY

Today we're looking at one of the earliest biographical pieces written on John R. Neill - and this one was written by Neill himself. The autobiographical sketch was published in the November 8, 1930 issue of Argosy Magazine, a monthly collection and serialization of adventure stories. In many issues they had a feature called "The Men Who Make the Argosy." Below you can see and read John R. Neill's moment in the Argosy spotlight. Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

John R. Neill bio in ARGOSY MAGAZINE November 8, 1930.

The biographical piece is loaded with information and detail. Neill begins by discussing his early art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and his brief stint in medical school, followed by his close friendship with fellow illustrator Joseph Clement Coll and their early careers working as newspaper artists.

Neill begins discussing his Oz career by stating, "The stage was blazing the success of L. Frank Baum's 'Wizard of Oz' at this time and for some reason the publishers lit on me to illustrate a sequel to 'The Wizard.'" Of course Neill knew of Wizard primarily from the Broadway musical first! The show was at the height of its popularity in late 1903 and 1904 when Neill began work on his first Oz book The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Neill's endpaper design showing the stars of the 1903 WIZARD OF OZ.

Neill goes on to mention that he's now entertaining his own children with the Oz books, talks of his incredible success as he moved his career to high-end magazine work from the mid-teens through the 1920s working for The Saturday Evening Post, Pictorial Review, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Delineator - and how he poured many of the magazine's lucrative paychecks into building apartments in New York City.

In the mid-'20s Neill began designing a new home for himself and his growing family in Great Neck, Long Island, but stopped work on the house project to invest in a silver mine in Mexico! Read the article above to see how THAT went.

By the November of 1930 when this article appeared the 1929 stock market crash was a year old and much of Neill's best paying (and most beautiful!) magazine work had come to an end.

We will have much more on Neill's life and career as the blog proceeds - so keep checking back. And please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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