We virtually never see posters for professional services—but this advertisement for Paul Hankar, one of Belgium's best Art Nouveau architects, is really something special. To promote Hankar's exteriors, Crespin takes an inward dive to illuminate the life within. In this perfectly proportioned work, symbolic forms—from compasses to honeycombs, rulers and protractors—surround the architect as an expression of his own mind. "The warm and vivid coloring further adds, if that’s possible, to the merit of this print which remains one of the best—if not the very best —of Crespin” (Beaumont, p. 48).
Magnificent and ferocious creatures are the focus of this advertisement for the Seils Sterling Circus and their "show of a thousand wonders." Here, wild cats, a camel, and an elephant rest in their natural habitat of grassy plains, exhibiting both threatening bared teeth and more relaxed expressions. This is a half-sheet vertical poster.
"Squaawk! Polly wants her summer fashions!" Vincent's many posters for the Paris department store Au Bon Marché constitute a magnificent pageant of "where fashion sits, puttin' on the Ritz" during the Roaring '20s; this two-sheet poster is surely the most carnivalesque of them all.
“Armand Rassenfosse... was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father, a prosperous merchant in Liège, pursuing his penchant for drawing and engraving only as a hobby. But on a business trip to Paris, he met Felician Rops who persuaded him to attend the Academy at Liège... Rassenfosse at first designed small graphic works like ex libris and letterheads, then went on to book illustrations and magazine cover designs. His posters have a directness and simplicity that bring them an immediate attention. For CIGARETTES JOB, Rassenfosse uses more color, and for some reason, he has chosen a Spanish motif; it was probably easier, in 1910, to imagine a ‘gypsy’ woman smoking a cigarette than having a more genteel girl indulge in such unladylike behavior. According to Weber, women who smoked 'belonged to the lower orders or to criminal classes... By the 1890s one begins to hear of respectable women smoking, but they were either eccentrics or feminists'” (Wine Spectator, 102).
A well-received, two-act musical comedy, The Gay Parisienne revolves around the double life of Mr. Honeycomb. It takes place during the Edwardian period, and Honeycomb is the typical restrained Englishman at home, but he conducts wild, passionate affairs when abroad. In order to avoid the consequences of his actions against his British wife and French fiancée, he fakes his own death, leading to even more bizarre and uproarious times in Switzerland.
An Artist's Model was a two-act musical comedy written on the heels of the composer's much-heralded A Gaiety Girl from two years prior. Its plot focuses on a former nude model who, now a widowed millionairess, returns to the studio to pursue her lost artist love. He in turn only takes interest in her once she is engaged to an English nobleman. This is the smaller format version of the design.
Condition: B / slight tears and stains at folds and edges
We have not been able to discover the identity of the redheaded performer in Pal's full-length portrait, but she is most unlike the artist's usual flirts. In an odd mauve-blue costume, with a secret smile on her lips, she stands almost pensively, casting a fascinating shadow. This stock theatrical poster bears a great mystery—and lots of charm.
A dramatic scene unfolds as Carmen sacrifices herself for her city of Santiago in this novel by Rodolphe Bringer. While the French journalist, newspaper editor, and writer of crime novels and children's books was quite prolific, no information exists on this particular endeavor—aside from Pal's visual relic.
Pal is not usually one to dress his women up in layers, but a fox stole and oversized hat are appropriate enough when selecting Christmas presents for the children at the Place Clichy department store.
For one of the white sales at La Place Clichy, Pal presents a lady in an impressively frilled housecoat as she inspects the newly purchased delicate linens as shown to her by her maid. It's quite the image of luxury.
Pal announces the inaugural issue of this liberal newspaper specializing in political and literary coverage with an image of an unfettered Marianne, holding an outsize writer’s quill—the weapon of choice of literati everywhere—that serves as the flag staff for the French tricolor.
Alas, no one seems to have found it consequential enough to record the melodramatic goings-on during the run of Mam'zelle Carabin at the Bouffes-Parisiens. It seems to have been an operatic evening filled with teary-eyed reconciliation, dastardly deeds, and a high-spirited international costume fête whose title translates—somewhat surprisingly, given the poster's vignettes—to Miss Medic. This is actually one of two posters Pal created for the play that were surely just what the doctor ordered. Rare!
Condition: B / grommet holes in center area; unobtrusive folds.
To advertise a Folies-Bergère presentation based on an old fable, Pal produces one of his most impressive scenes in a fantasy setting. The fiery crimson is particularly awe-inspiring, not to mention sensual and seductive—all qualities which Pal evoked in almost all of his women.
This preliminary design by Pal would later become the canvas for several otherpromotions for the infamous music hall; the blank space at right would be used for details on specific performances. But without the additional text, it's a lovely scene of a lithe dancer caught mid-pirouette.
For a woman so stately and a poster so much larger-than-life, one would think that this Louisa de Korr was quite an important lady—but, sadly, no information exists about her that we could find. In any case, it's a fantastic depiction by Pal. This is a two-sheet poster.
Condition: B / slight tears and stains, largely at seam.
Presented in a detailed Edwardian gown and silver hair, this otherwise youthful performer stands next to an upright piano. The contemporary critic Charles Hiatt noted that this poster “is of an elegance to which Paléologue does not often attain, and would be distinguished in almost any collection of posters” (p. 145).
A Life of Pleasure was the last play to be written and produced by Henry Pettitt. It debuted in September, 1893 and was transferred from Drury Lane to Princess's, which offered more room, and ran through February, 1894. The story tells of "a woman who succumbs to the lure of evil sensuality and falls victim to the machinations of a heartless upper-class, pleasure-loving seducer" (Fantasies of Empire, p. 199). One would not know from Pal's design that this striking lady becomes a fallen woman, but we appreciate Pal's decision to show her triumphant and independent.
In ominous shades of slate and dark blue, Gray depicts a scene from Maurice Donnay's 1903 play, The Return from Jerusalem. "Maurice Donnay collaborated on the Annales de la Patrie française and caused a sensation on the boulevards with an anti-Semitic play, Retour de Jérusalem. Donnay began his career, as we have seen, at the Chat Noir, descended to the boulevards where he made a reputation as an author of light comedies and ended an honored member of the Académie française. Nationalists from Lemaître to Simone de Beauvoir's father adored Donnay plays, perhaps because the typical Donnay hero—an aging boulevardier, debonair, experienced, gray at the temples but still handsome—represented a flattering portrait of themselves" (The Politics of Resentment, p. 449). Below the Christ figure here, the text reads: "On seeing this lamentable flock of my persecuted and hunted coreligionists, I swore to myself to avenge those of my race."
The buxom flower-seller is desperate; even as a prospective customer climbs a ladder to escape her sales pitch, the landlord is bearing down upon her with an eviction notice. While little is known regarding the plot of the Biot-Graphe Revue by Tomy and Telloc, theatre critics at the time raved about the production, one going so far as to dub it the greatest show of the year.
Condition: B- / slight tears; restored loss at upper right corner
Though the scene presented here was also used in Gray's more famous promotion for Théâtre de l'Opéra (see PAI-LXXVIII, 301), this poster advertises a masked ball at the Alcazar. The café-concert later known as Alcazar d'Hiver thrived from 1858-1902 on the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière.
Gesmar goes full-on funky in this design for a German theatre revue called The Train to the West. To the left of our two-faced burlesque dancer, we're promised: The world's greatest attraction! An excellent ensemble! Fairy outfits! Four hundred contributors! You had us at the fairy outfit, Gesmar. Rare!