More than a drawing of a sheep. Sketches of the Little Prince performed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has been found in an old building in the north of Switzerland, where they had been stored by a real estate magnate in the middle of tens of thousands of works of art.

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Acquired it over 30 years ago in an auction in Switzerland, the sketches were kept in a file folder card stock and “are in a very good condition”, said Thursday at the AFP Elisabeth Grossmann, curator, Foundation for art, culture and history in Winterthur (canton of Zürich). “On the other hand, many other works are in a poor state,” she added, specifying that the collection was stored in several places of the city. The carton contained three drawings related to the Little Prince : the drinker on his planet, the boa that digests an elephant accompanied by handwritten annotations, and the Little Prince and the fox. As well as a poem illustrated with a small drawing and a love letter addressed to his wife Consuelo.

Sketch of the boa digesting an elephant, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. HANDOUT/AFP

As was revealed Thursday, the local newspaper Landbote, the drawings, which are not dated, have been carried out on the paper of the airmail to the ink of China and watercolour. The collector of zurich Bruno Stefanini, who died in December 2018 at the age of 94, had bought at an auction in 1986 to Bevaix. Owner of one of the largest art collections in Switzerland, it was created in 1980, this Foundation in Winterthur so that it maintains its heritage.

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The Little Prince , written in New York by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during the war, and illustrated with his own watercolours, was published in 1943 in New York, and then in 1946 in France, after the disappearance of the aviator on 31 July 1944 off the coast of Marseille. The writer had lived two years in Switzerland from 1915 to 1917, in a boarding school religious Freiburg. The original illustrations of his book are preserved in the Morgan Library in New York. Ms. Grossmann said to the newspaper Landbote that the Foundation was going to make contact with the Morgan Library to inform them of this “find”.