ANDY WARHOL (1928 - 1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928 - 1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928 - 1987)
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ANDY WARHOL (1928 - 1987)


ANDY WARHOL (1928 - 1987)
stamped with the Andy Warhol Estate stamps and numbered 'A0.3739 284.015 88.368 D1313' (on the reverse)
ink, gold leaf and gold applications on paper
38.1 x 58.1 cm. (15 x 22 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1956
Stellan Holm Gallery, New York
Acquired at the above by the present owner
Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2013 (illustrated).
Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Palazzo Cipolla, Rome, 2014 (illustrated).
Milano, Palazzo Reale, Andy Warhol, October 2013 - February 2014.
Rome, Palazzo Cipolla, Andy Warhol, April - September 2014.
Greenwich, Bruce Museum, Spring into Summer with Andy Warhol and Friends!, June - September 2017.
Sale room notice
Please note the correct size for Lot 87 is 38.1 x 58.1 cm. (15 x 22 7/8 in.), which is listed on, and not as stated in the digital catalogue.
拍品編號87的正確尺寸為 38.1 x 58.1 cm. (15 x 22 7/8 in.),正確尺寸應爲佳士得網頁所示,並非拍賣圖錄所述。

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Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

Executed in 1956, Butterfly is an iconic work that was conceived at the inception of Warhol’s extensive and acclaimed artistic career. He started as a commercial illustrator in 1949, working for clients including the famed Tiffany & Co., Vogue, Glamour, and The New York Times. The current work exhibits his signature blotted-line ink drawing—a process he developed while studying pictorial design at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) which combines drawing with basic printmaking. The process allowed Warhol to create multiple illustrations with similar themes in a timely manner. It was a craft he continued to refine into the 1950s when he began his commercial career after moving to New York from Pittsburgh, enabling him to present numerous ideas to clients at once to increase the likelihood of his illustrations to be chosen and featured as the final advertisement. After creating the blotted outline, Warhol often filled them in with watercolour dyes or applied gold leaf. His experimentation—and fascination—with gold leaf, was likely inspired by the gilded images of icons and saints in the Byzantine Catholic church he attended with his family as a child in Pittsburgh. Butterfly is therefore a fusion of Warhol’s earlier exploration of the blotted line technique and his speculative inspiration from the characteristic gold of Byzantinesque art.

The current work further embodies Warhol’s fondness for butterflies, as he once described them as 'jewels of the sky' that will 'provide you with endless pleasure if given enough attention'. Warhol was profoundly fond of animals, creating many works depicting them, and the butterfly was one of his recurring motifs. Yet, the current work is the only butterfly work executed with gold leaf from the artist’s early oeuvre to appear on the market, implying its rarity. Resting against a banal piece of greyish-coloured paper, the golden butterfly shimmers in its stationary position. With its wings fully spread, the butterfly radiates glowing vitality. Star-like shapes dot the tips of the butterfly’s antenna and line its body, making it all dreamier and magical. The simplicity of the outline created by his blotted line technique is reminiscent of vector drawings in children’s colouring books, the mass of golden colour filling and infusing it with noble elegance. The use of gold leaf creates gentle ruffles on the paper surface, creating soft creases. A minimalist illustration capturing the key characteristics of a butterfly, the current work is an attestation to Warhol’s curiosity in seeking differing artistic techniques and deep interest in butterflies.

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