It is an image so sweet and innocent to be worthy of tears: Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet walking home in the golden evening having said good-bye to their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood following Christopher Robin's party for Pooh.
Signed by artist Ernest "E.H." Shepard, this original final drawing of Pooh and Piglet in the Hundred Acre Wood, arguably the most important Winnie-the-Pooh drawing in existence, is available at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts Auction December 13. Pre-auction estimates for the pen and ink on board illustration (10 1/2 x 4 1/2 in): $250,000-$350,000.
A.A. Milne’s children’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh was first published in 1926. Milne wrote the story for his son, Christopher Robin, and it became an international bestseller. Winnie-the-Pooh may well be the most universally loved character in all of children’s books.
Shepard (1879-1976) drew his illustrations first in pencil and finished them in India ink, making alterations as he went along. Then he erased the pencil. You can still see on the drawing in pencil that he originally drew Piglet's arms hanging by his side before deciding on the more endearing gesture of clasping them behind him.
The illustration captures a beautiful moment in the story, just before Pooh and Piglet turn back into ordinary toys. This elegant and wistful drawing represents the last drawing in the Hundred Acre Wood, ending one of the most adored and enduring tales in literature – but not before giving readers one last smile.
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.
And thus, Christopher Robin and Pooh's time in the Hundred Acre Wood in the original book of Winnie-the-Pooh ends, beneath this charming illustration. The book briefly continues, ending with the narrator promising to continue more tales of Pooh and friends, "if you wanted it very much." "Pooh does," is Christopher Robin's response. And he walks upstairs to the bath, with Pooh bump-bump-bumping behind him.
For more information on the auction, go to Bonhams.com.