INSIGHTS / ART: The Sammer Gallery Edition Paintings
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
In 2004, a series of seven new paintings was created by Tom Adams that expanded on previous cover art he had done for various Agatha Christie books several decades earlier. These seven paintings became known as the "Sammer Gallery Editions" and five of them were reproduced in the 2015 book "Tom Adams Uncovered - The Art of Agatha Christie and Beyond", published by Harper Collins. However, two of the images have not been reproduced in book form, so many individuals have never seen them. These two are Death Comes As The End and The Caribbean Mystery. The other five titles were The Mirror Crack'd, They Do It With Mirrors, By The Pricking Of My Thumbs, Murder Is Easy, and The Labours of Hercules.
Each painting provided an expanded interpretation of the book, and all used themes from the original Fontana covers. The Caribbean Mystery, for example, blended together images from the two Fontana covers - the more common one of the face of Major Palgrave and the rarer cover of 'Ophelia' floating in the water.
On the rear of each painting, the name of the image was written by the artist. All were signed inside the painting. All frames have Sammer Gallery labels and notations. A few still have prices on them depending on where they were sold. For example, Death Comes AS The End was originally sold in Denmark at a price of 187,500 Danish Krona and the price label is still on the frame. Most of these paintings were approximately 75cm by 60cm, and were then framed by the Sammer Gallery in Marbella, Spain. All were sold framed in a similar style. The original asking price was equivalent to $28,000 per picture, though discounts were likely extended. All are still believed to be in private collections with five different owners.
Press: In addition to being discussed in the Tom Adams book, referenced earlier, an article on the Sammer Gallery Edition paintings appeared in issue 84, volume XVII of Prestige Magazine, a European art periodical. The article is almost 40 pages long and provides significant insights into the back story of these paintings, the artist and the Sammer Gallery.
Collectability: These Sammer Gallery Editions blur the line between fine art and Christie related collectables. As an artist, Tom Adams had a much broader oeuvre that just Christie covers, and these paintings illustrate his skills as well as any of his other works. Compared with the book cover paintings, these are large format paintings about six times larger than than his original covers. Value is potentially lower than the original sale price solely because of the dealer mark up and the relative newness of these images. However, a fair estimate today could range from $15,000 - $30,000 US depending on desire of the buyer, or eagerness of the seller. That said, scarcity is a reality - there are only 7 of them. If one ever comes up for sale and it is something you want to own, there may never be another opportunity. Over time, these are likely highly collectible images and much less common than the 100 plus original artworks used for the Fontana and Pocket Book paperbacks... which will be the subject of a later article.