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Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland, 1969

What the Mad Hatter has to do with one of the most inspired collaborations in Western culture.

UPDATE: The best illustrations from 150 years of Alice in Wonderland

Last week, we marveled at Leonard Weisgard’s stunning illustrations for the first color edition of Alice in Wonderland, circa 1949. But it turns out they might not be the most culturally intriguing. As reader Varvn Aryacetas points out on Twitter, exactly two decades later a collaboration of epic proportion took place as the Lewis Carroll classic was illustrated by none other than Salvador Dalí. (And let’s not forget what a soft spot I have for obscure children’s illustration by famous artists.)

Published by New York’s Maecenas Press-Random House in 1969 and distributed as their book of the month, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time. It contains 12 heliogravures — one for each chapter of the book and an original signed etching in four colors as the frontispiece — all of which the fine folks at the William Bennett Gallery have kindly digitized for your gasping pleasure:

Down the Rabbit Hole
The Pool of Tears
A Caucus Race and a Long Tale
The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
Advice From a Caterpillar
Pig and Pepper
Mad Tea Party
The Queen’s Croquet Ground
The Mock Turtle’s Story
The Lobster’s Quadrille
Who Stole the Tarts?
Alice’s Evidence

As you might expect, the book isn’t exactly easy to acquire — Amazon currently spots just a single copy, handsomely priced at $12,900, and there’s even a video tutorial on what to look for when you hunt for this treasure:

But the collaboration brought together two of the most exceptional creators of Western culture, both ticklers or curiosity and architects of the imagination, and who can really put a price tag on that? Besides, if this baby can command $4.3 million, what’s $13K for a Dalí?

Published November 15, 2011




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