A treasure trove of sketches from the French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote the classic book The Little Prince, have been found in a house in the northeastern Swiss city of Winterthur, claims an art foundation.
One of the sketches shows the boa constrictor that swallowed an elephant but looks like a hat in the eyes of an adult. Colour sketches were also found of the little prince with the fox and of the drunkard whom the little prince visits on his planet, plus a love letter from Saint-Exupéry to his wife.
Published in 1943, the book has been translated into multiple languages and has sold tens of millions of copies. It is the story of an interstellar traveller who arrives on Earth in search of friendship and understanding.
The drawings were bought in an auction in the 1980s by art collector Bruno Stefanini, who set up the Foundation for Art, Culture and History in Winterthur, and died last December. They lay unnoticed in his house until being recently discovered amid a pile of autographs from historical figures.
The foundation describes them as being in “surprisingly good condition”, although they are not dated. It has yet to decide whether they will go on public display but plans to show them to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, which houses sketches and the original manuscript for the book.
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