An original watercolor from the Little Prince, page 87 of the original copy by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Estimated at $55 000 – 66 000. An original watercolor from the Little Prince, page 87 of the original copy by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Estimated at $55 000 – 66 000.

The exhibition is particularly poignant as Saint-Exupéry wrote the book whilst in exile in America in 1942. The beloved children's book was published in the April of 1943, in New York.

“We are thrilled to present this rare artwork in New York, a city which has a strong tie to the book, The Little Prince. The artwork will be exhibited a few blocks from the famous Morgan Library which has the original manuscript in its archives. This watercolour shows an iconic image of the young hero. He escapes into the night without a sound and walks alone in the dunes with his scarf blowing in the wind.” explains Guillaume Romaneix, in charge of the Book and Manuscript department at Artcurial.

The Little Prince is one of the world's most read books after the Bible. An incredible 145 million plus copies have been published and it has been translated into 270 languages.

The story behind The Little Prince began in the summer of 1942, when Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his wife, Consuelo, moved into Bevin House, a manor on Northport, Long Island. The author had finished writing Pilote de Guerre and was working on Citadelle.

During a lunch meeting, Curtice Hitchcock, Saint-Exupéry’s publisher saw the author drawing a figure and asked him who it was. Saint-Exupéry replied that it wasn’t much “just a little man who is my heart.”

Hitchcock told him to listen to the little man and suggested that he try writing a children’s book. Saint-Exupery was surprised and said to Léon Wencelius a few days later, “Can you believe he wants me to write a children’s book now, come with me to the newsagent, I want to buy some colored crayons.”

In his attic workshop, the writer surrounded himself with paintbrushes in water pots and pieces of paper with watercolour drawings. He worked endless hours, and by mid October 1942, the book was complete but the author struggled to finish the drawings.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Image via Writers at Work Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Image via Writers at Work

It is thought by literary historians that the son of the philosopher Charles De Koninck served as a model for the Prince and Sylvia Hamilton’s poodle was the model for the sheep in the book.

One day, the author revealed to Adèle Beaux his admiration for Mary Poppins, which he declared to be, “the best children’s story book he has ever read.”

When The Little Prince was published, P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins wrote, “Why mourn for  the Brothers Grimm... [when it is still possible for such a tale to be] heard from the lips of airmen and all who steer by the stars?”

The original book was published in New York on April 6, 1943 by Reynal & Hitchcock. One week later, Antoine de Saint- Exupéry gave the original manuscript and sketches of The Little Prince to his friend, Silvia Hamilton. He left New York and headed to North Africa, never to return. The original manuscript and sketches have since been acquired by the Pierpont Morgan library in New York where they are kept in the archives. The original watercolors returned to France in the luggage belonging to Saint Exupery’s wife, Conseulo.

From today until May 9, 2016, Artcurial will hold an exhibition of selected works from their Books and Manuscripts and Impressionist & Modern and Post-War & Contemporary sales.

The exhibition will take place at Arader Galleries, 1016 Madison Avenue NY 10021, and will include works by Delvaux, Dubuffet, Hantaï, Magritte, Saint-Exupéry and Staël.

The Books and Manuscripts sale will be held in Paris on May 31, 2016.
The Impressionist & Modern and Post-War & Contemporary sales will be held in Paris on June 6 & 7, 2016.

Search Artcurial on Barnebys here.