Printed in 1977, it was put out by Mobil to advertise the 16-week television series showcasing American Diplomatic History from Versailles to Pearl Harbor. Hosted by Eric Sevareid, a distinguished front-line radio reporter and political commentator for CBS, this was a remarkable series. The design is simple but brilliant, starting with the flattened WWI doughboy helmet, followed by Churchill's homburg, and then finally the deep, inverted bowl-shape of WWII.
In addition to memorable series that were being shown for the first time, the 1981 anniversary season also included several outstanding repeats which Masterpiece Theater dubbed "Festival of Favorites." This poster makes use of Chermayeff's original 1972 design for a dramatization based on Honoré de Balzac's bitter tale of a spinster who deliberately destroys the romance between her young niece and a Polish sculptor, masking her jealous frustration behind a façade of good will. Four hearts—each ruined in a different way—evoke the emotional devastation.
Masterpiece Theater began its tenth anniversary season (see small logo at right) with a serialized dramatization of Crime and Punishment. Chermayeff communicates the anguish of Dostoevsky's masterwork with the image of a blood-spattered prison cell wall glimpsed through a small barred window with the title scrawled in chalk above. Playing the tortured Raskolnikov was John Hurt, who had appeared as an unforgettably decadent Caligula in the I, Claudius series three years earlier.
The centerpiece of Masterpiece Theater's tenth season was a 13-part drama titled UXB (unexploded bombs). Set in England during World War II, the gripping series gave us our first look at Anthony Andrews before he went on to make his career in another Masterpiece Theater presentation Brideshead Revisited. Chermayeff uses stencil-style lettering and spattered paint to create a graphic explosion.
This is an ORIGINAL FIRST PRINTING of this poster by Ivan Chermayeff. Printed 1979, it advertises the PBS/Masterpiece Theatre presentation of Kean. The caption reads: "A legend for his performances -- both on stage and off."
In keeping with its aims of supporting and fostering the appreciation of contemporary graphics while celebrating the lithographic traditions from which these designs sprung, Poster Auctions International commissioned a series of original poster designs to commemorate their twice-yealy sales from 1992 through 1997, at which point economic realities prevailed over artistic sentiments. The participating graphic artists comprise a who's who of the world's most-distinguished posterists, and each poster is a limited-edition of 200 numbered copies-all hand-signed-on special stock. Note that the design was also printed in an edition on regular stock to be pasted on the walls of Manhattan prior to each sale. The fact that these posters were papered over or torn down only days after they went up is another reason why these are so rare.
Instead of exploring the period aspects of this literary classic, Chermayeff's design takes an utterly modern tack, playing up the romance angle. The thigh-high image of a lady's white stocking superimposed on the photo of a riding boot against a scarlet background manages to suggest a delicious situation in a decorous manner that would surely bring a smile to Jane Austen's face. This multi-part performance was part of the Drawing Room Intrigue series and originally aired on October 26, 1980.
This poster put out by PBS to advertise their Masterpiece Theatre production of The Barchester Chronicles. Based on Anthony Trollope's 'The Warden' and 'Barchester Towers,' this seven-part series promised to show that "ambition led to reform-but there was no reforming ambition." This show originally aired on October 28, 1984. The design is by the famous poster artist Ivan Chermayeff, who created many of the famous Masterpiece Theatre posters.
Printed c. 1986, it advertises the PBS/Mobil Masterpiece Theatre presentation of The Duchess of Duke Street. The caption reads: At her London hotel the cuisine was deliciously simple and the scandal simply delicious.
The 1915 Ford Madox Ford novel on which this dramatization was based has nothing to do with war except, perhaps, on a domestic level. The tale is narrated by a highly conventional, deeply oblivious husband who discovers that for the past nine years, his wife has been the mistress of his best friend, Captain Ashburnham, the apparently honorable "good soldier" of the title. It starred "Masterpiece Theater favorites" Jeremy Brett and Brett Ellis, the swashbuckling hero of Poldark. Against blocks of color, Chermayeff juxtaposes the dropped-out whiteness of the narrator's summer suit. The few details—book, high collar and buttoned vest—suggest his dispassionate nature.
Five selected episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs capped Masterpiece Theater's tenth-anniversary programming in style. "Television's most popular series" engaged and enlightened its devoted audience with social and historical commentary on Edwardian England seen through the lens of domestic doings in the townhouse of a wealthy London member of Parliament. The poster here adapts Chermayeff's original 1974 design for the show's final season which garnered six Emmy awards. It features an affectionately drawn portrait of lady's maid Rose as played by big-eyed Jean Marsh, one of the series' co-creators. The red shape is an allusion to the giant bow at the back of the cap that was a standard part of the uniform at the time.