Houghtellings Alice in Wonderland

  • Houghtelling’s “Alice in Wonderland”

OK, at Sotheby’s American paintings auction last week, someone paid about 5 times the estimate for an egg tempera and gouache storybook scene. Why think Alice Walton? A, someone paid about 5 times the estimate … and B, the name of the piece: “Alice in Wonderland,” by Ayres Houghtelling. Sotheby’s information on the piece is that it was painted in 1947 as the first in a series of children’s literary classics for Collier’s Magazine.

Sotheby’s expected the 22-by-28 inch painting to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000. The hammer price with buyer’s premium was $53,125.

More likely, the piece was bought by an “Alice in Wonderland” fanatic or a Carroll collector. But it’s amusing to imagine that Alice might have decided to buy a painting telling the whole story of Alice in Wonderland (presented clockwise in the work) for children who visit her museum.