"During his Czech period, Mucha did not involve himself in any commercial projects, but produced several posters for various good causes he believed in. This is a prime example of such work, a poster for the Czechoslovak YWCA... The main purpose of this new branch of the international YWCA was to build a home for unwed mothers and to promote the movement in the newly-founded country" (Lendl/Prague, p. 287). This is the small format version of the design.
Condition: A- / Slight tears and stains, largely at edges.
Cyrano de Bergerac brandishes his sword to the "immense success" of the play written by Edmond Rostand, which loosely fictionalized the life of the real titular man. The entire play is written in verse, with rhyming couplets of twelve syllables per line, and is interestingly responsible for introducing the word "panache" into the English language. The play would later be adapted for stage, film, television, and opera; most notably, Anthony Burgess wrote a new translation and adaptation of the play in 1970.
This 2-sheet poster is a mind-blowing tribute to what a Bacchanalia the Students’ Ball of February 2, 1901, must have been. As an extravagantly attired female reveler positions herself beneath an ornate archway—unaware that the Devil is lurking beneath her skirt, or that one of his impish legions is carefully unlacing her outfit—a tag-team of rogues does their best to ply her with bubbly, one of them distracting her, while the other keeps her glass constantly filled to the rim. A magnificent nod to unbridled merriment, open to any number of lascivious interpretations.
In her brilliant book The Poster, Ruth E. Iskin speaks of the iconography of the female print connoisseur seen in posters as a reflection of the growing middle class of the 1890s. "Typically, this new figure was a fashionable woman directing a sustained gaze at an original print she has selected from a portfolio... Gottlob's poster depicts a woman wearing a decorated hat, indicating that she is seated in the public space of a gallery rather than in her home. Her aesthetic gaze is focused on a single black-and-white print... The woman is holding up the print for inspection, having presumably selected it from the portfolio. The bright yellow background highlights the print and turns her upper body into a well-defined silhouette while functioning as a glowing backdrop for the dark-colored lettering announcing the exhibition" (Iskin, pp. 106-107).
Paris-Almanach is one of De Feure's most collectable posters. Look carefully at the fine gradations of skin tones on our Parisian tourist's face, or "brush your hands" against the textured fox-fur fringe of her cloak. Her vibrancy, and her look of sagaciousness, is in direct contrast to the grayscale, cold, and aloof crowd behind her. One gentleman looks over, stunned by her shine. She is enlightened, because she has read "Paris-Almanach," a tourist guide to the City of Light, just as the city was being illuminated.
Over a ten year period, Chéret created more than a dozen different designs for this lamp oil company. Each consists of a single woman delicately turning on a lamp, making the most mundane of tasks suddenly appear terribly romantic and intimate.
The dancer is boundless joy personified, and the red spotlight on her adds to the impact of this vivacious work. This version is from the series Chéret contributed to the Courrier Français, a lively twelve-page weekly magazine, started in 1894, which championed the work of many leading posterists. But this isn’t the design’s first appearance in that newspaper; that version hails from some six-and-a-half months prior. Apparently this airborne gypsy was popular enough to bring back for a return engagement with slightly altered text in the bottom left corner.
The original Bal Bullier (see Chéret's version, PAI-XXII, 280)—also known as the Closerie des Lilas—was constructed by Bullier on the grounds of an old convent at the corner where the Blvd. Port-Royal crosses the Ave. de l'Observatoire. A new owner transformed the gardens, planting clumps of trees and lilacs and building a room inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra. Posters show it in operation at least through the winter of 1894-95. This enchanting image, however, is for the later Bullier-Nouveau. Whether "new" refers here to a simple renovation, yet another owner, or a change in address, the design is filled with movement and high spirits that make us want to join the fun.
The classic design appeared with several variants of text at the bottom, this being the version with the ship’s name emblazoned over its ports of call, with the added reminder that these are "de luxe ships" in a class all their own—but we would have known that from Cassandre's image alone.
“Fernand Charron, who won the first Gordon Bennett cup in a car of his own design in 1900, eventually took over the Automobiles Charron firm and manufactured large, comfortable—and expensive—sedans. The closed cab shown in the poster was the natural automotive evolution from a carriage design—it was very popular with the aristocracy as it exuded elegance and luxury. All of this is reinforced in Cappiello's design, showing an elegant lady giving directions to her driver before entering the cab. The frame around the image, including the title plate, suggests that the Charron automobile is a masterpiece” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 90).
Little is known about this image outside of a brief reference in the December 1900 issue of The Poster, wherein it was shown without text, and yet identified as an advertisement for Tropon Chocolade. Described as a ‘window-bill,’ one can assume this was an in-store display and not ever a street poster, tantalizing young mothers to purchase Tropon hot chocolate for their children. From a scientific perspective, Tropon-Chocolade is actually an old way of making hot cocoa by blending it with a water-soluble protein derived from fish and animal flesh.
The drawing of a woman admonishing her dog appears only half-finished, with the right side remaining blank, but all the pertinent elements are there: the fashionable veiled hat, the gesture of the gloved hand, and the attentive pose of the pooch. Colta Ives, in the catalogue of the Bonnard exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, speaks of “the softly delineated forms [in the Salon des Cent], enhanced with touches of modeling and color” and feels that although he was part of the Nabis group, “his adoption of a more relaxed and lyrically sensuous approach” set him apart from that fraternity (Ives, p. 6). This charming invitation is surely one of the finest and most sensitive lithographs of Bonnard and of the entire Salon des Cent series.
The subject is a book exposing the decadence of Berlin society, written by Lautrec’s friend Victor Joze. His “poster focuses the spectator’s attention on the hindquarters of four horses, the largest of which [is] also being closely observed by a caricature of the Kaiser standing in a guardbox. The implications of this, along with the book’s title, provoked a protest from the German ambassador to France and nearly caused an international incident. Joze, too, wrote Lautrec asking for him to withdraw the poster, as he felt the depiction of a German officer, together with the anti-German tone of the book, would not be tolerated by the police and could get him in trouble. Lautrec, however, refused to stop distribution of the poster, and as he had paid for it [himself], the publisher was not able to stop the distribution. [Thereafter], according to art dealer Edmond Sagot, the value of [Lautrec’s] work quadrupled” (Frey, p. 398).
Formed in England by Thomas Humber in 1869, Humber Cycles would eventually, like so many bicycle companies, become dominated by its automobile division. At the turn of the century, though, bicycles were still all the rage, as can be seen in this dreamy design which gives a heavy nod to Mucha’s poster for Cycles Perfecta. In both, only a hint of the bicycle is shown, while the heavenly muse grabs our attention.
This maquette appears to have never been developed into a poster—but it provides a great look into the artist's process and creative planning. His chic coffee drinker combines the colors and aesthetics of his graphic Café Precia (see PAI-LXII, 462) with the fashion-forward attitude of his designs for Fourrures Canton. This is a signed maquette, with provenance from the artist's studio.
Condition: Signed gouache and ink maquette. Framed.
This maquette from Colin was never used for a poster—nor did he make any similar posters that might illuminate this work. However, it's possible to deduce that it was likely meant to become a promotion for the 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition, which attempted to display and celebrate the diversity of cultures throughout France's colonies; the three faces depicted here may illustrate France's international reach. However, it was not used—perhaps it seemed too reproachful to the exposition's organizers? In any case, it is a great example of Colin's esteemed compositional acuity, as well as his inclusive nature.
A year after his celebration of Art Deco for Chevrolet (see No. 63), Alfred Cardinaux would launch himself into Peak Art Deco for Berne Air Lines with this brilliant angular design positing Berne as the center of an aviation network streaking into the sky.
Condition: A- / Slight tears at top and bottom edge.
René Vincent virtually invented auto advertising for the moneyed elite, with an elegant and precise line extending from the machinery to the women he drew. In this ad, as in so many since, we can see the wealthy couple leading the children to the back seats in the new family sedan. "See all Ford agents for the latest Ford creation: new line, elegance and indisputable chic, refined comfort, and mechanical improvements for all models." The bright burst of golden leaves, matching the wife's coat, supplants an exhaust plume with clever placement. Together with the Racing Green of the car, it's as a superb visual shorthand for "top-down fun from Spring to Fall." Strikingly, this French advertisement doesn't name the car: we suspect it's the 1928 Model A Convertible.
Two "Laurel & Hardy" clowns are out of the Big Top and on the town for a stroll. Mr. Stout, reading from a songsheet, steadies himself with a short-barreled shotgun for a cane. The taller of the two, smoking from a Meerschaum pipe, has a tea kettle steaming on his head and a doddering pup at his feet. They're clowns; they're not supposed to make sense.
The family likeness is clear in this triple portrait of the Sells Brothers, one of the first big touring circuses in the U.S. In 1862, they created a circus. It failed. Then they worked in auctions, following circuses around to take advantage of the crowds to sell their merchandise. They were the Sells Brothers, after all. After taking an interest in Cannonball George Richards, one of the first Human Cannonball acts, they grew their traveling circus from 1872 to 1895, but faced increased competition from Adam Forepaugh and Barnum & Bailey. This poster, toward the end of their reign, attests that they are "sole proprietors" in a burst of family bootstraps pride; two years later, the Sells Brothers would merge with Forepaugh.
Condition: B-/ Slight tears at folds; restored losses in corners.
You can already see, in this riveting two-sheet poster, why the Danish actress Asta Nielsen was the first international star of silent film: the large dark eyes, a haunted face, her boyish figure. She often portrayed headstrong, passionate women trapped by tragic circumstances: transforming this melodramatic trope with naturalism and overt eroticism – leading her films to be heavily censored in the U.S. "Dirnentragodie," or 'Tragedy of the Street,' was Nielsen's final silent role. The film epitomizes the Weimar movement called The New Objectivity, which tried to create a middle ground between Brechtian alienation and Expressionist emotionalism by forcing middle-class characters into the oppressive social circumstances of the street. "Dirnentragodie" features Nielsen as an aging prostitute who takes in a young man running away from his middle-class family. She fantasizes about a different future; the man returns to his family; she's accused of murdering her pimp. This 1927 Fenneker design was used for the release of the film in Vienna.