Hope is at the Door (Homage to Eakins), 1966
- Wax pencil on paper
- Sight: 9.5” high x 7.5” wide
- Frame: 20.5” high x 18.25” wide
- Signature, title, date inscribed on original backing board in sleeve verso
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About the work
A delightfully whimsical original drawing by the renowned British writer and artist Roald Dahl (1916-1990). The work depicts Dahl floating dreamlike above a single scull, with a Picassoesque figure rising up from a determined rower. Adding to the dreamlike quality of the work, two birds drift lazily below the scene in company with solitary white cloud.
The rowing theme relates to the now famous series of works completed by Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) in the 1870s, thus Dahl’s “Homage to Eakins.” The main title “Hope is at the Door” is more elusive, possibly relating to the period after 1965 when Dahl’s wife Patricia Neal suffered burst cerebral aneurysms while pregnant with their fifth child. Dahl took control of her rehabilitation over a number of months, during which Neal had to re-learn to talk and walk. By 1966 when the drawing was completed, Neal was on the way to recovery and a return to her acting career.
Author Helen Cooper once said that Eakins’s rowing works were “at heart, about the strivings of the human spirit,” a sentiment apparently shared by Dahl. A close look at the two birds Dahl set against the bright blue sky reveals one bearing a subtle grin of contentment, possibly the author’s way of showing hope emerging from struggle.
Original drawings by Roald Dahl are extremely rare, and this particular work appears to have significant personal meaning for the author. Housed in a contemporary frame under museum glass.
About the author…
Roald Dahl was a novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide, and include such familiar titles as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The BFG.
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