On April 26th 2019, the original painting for Commence the Endgame by Noah Bradley was sold on eBay for $8,400. This was the first traditional painting for the artist in several years and featured both War of the Spark title characters, Liliana and Nicol Bolas.

The Facts

Commence the Endgame by Noah Bradley, oil on un-stretched canvas, 30“ x  40“

Commence the Endgame by Noah Bradley is a massive oil on canvas, measuring 30 inches by 40 inches. This work was commissioned for the latest Magic expansion War of the Spark, and while it is not often that Magic art is created at this size, the subject and storytelling of the card gave reason for the artist to paint this work larger than life. This is Bradley’s first traditional work for Magic in quite some time, as the artist often works digitally for the cards he is commissioned. He has noted on Twitter that this is just one of several oil paintings he’s completed for upcoming Magic sets, and the rest will be seen in the coming months.

This work was the bottom left. The rest are still to be revealed. Image from Noah Bradley’s Twitter.

Even though Commence the Endgame isn’t officially a “Story Spotlight” card, this is the depiction of the catalyst to Bolas’ rise to power. He is literally beginning the end.

The Hammer

Work in Progress of Commence the Endgame. Photo from Noah Bradley’s Twitter.

The bidding on Commence the Endgame was, simply put, fast and furious.

Normally this section details bidding wars and back-and-forths in the final minutes, but for Commence the Endgame, those interested made their move early and often. The painting climbed through the thousands on the first day to $7,700, then to $7,900 on Day 2, and after a few more days to $8,200, a plateau where it would hold until the final hours of the auction. A final few bids in the closing seconds pushed this piece to its $8,400 price realized; a fabulous price for this work and a triumphant traditional return for the artist. The collector is unknown based on the auction, and have not made themselves public as of the writing of this article.

Sketch for Commence the Endgame by Noah Bradley. Digital.

The Art

Let’s look for a moment at all the immense amount of storytelling subjects found in this work. War of the Spark has very much been about the story, and so many significant people, places, and things make up this entire scene.

We have Dragon-God Nicol Bolas:

With his tail wrapped around a strong but momentarily subjugated Liliana, still firmly in his clutches:

Above Bolas is the Immortal Sun, the artifact to keep all Planeswalkers on Ravnica during his war:

And below the Planar Bridge, which would move his army into Ravnica:

All around these planeswalkers and pieces of power is the Eternal army, enveloping them in a claustrophobic composition to show just how immense this War will be:

This piece is the entire storytelling package when it comes to the tale of the War of the Spark, and includes almost every major element that made “Act II” so exciting. This is the beginning of the end for Ravnica, and although we now know how the story ends, this artwork will continue to tell the story of the rising of a Dragon-God for a long, long time.

Commence the Endgame by Noah Bradley, held by his wife, artist and writer Rachel Bradley. Photo from the eBay auction.


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