De Feure's extravagant design may at first read as a fashion advertisement; note the fine details in this woman's hat, shawl, and at the bottom of her long dress. But the image in fact promotes Victor Hugo's novel, "Hans of Iceland," which is being published in installments in the newspaper La Dépêche. "The emblematic representation of woman in his last artistic posters resolved the duality which had existed between the misogynous image of the femme fatale (in the early works) and that of the modern, emancipated woman (in this and later works)" (de Feure, p. 205).
Condition: B+ / slight creasing at horizontal fold
A smiling maiden pushes aside a blue curtain to reveal the splendors of her native land. Unabashedly, she represents the French colonies being honored at the Parisian International Exposition. This is the Portuguese version.
Choubrac's Orient-inspired advertisement for the performance of "Miss Robinson" at Paris's Theatre des Folies Dramatiques playfully synthesizes the escapades of a woman (Eva) in search of her man (Robinson Crusoe). He does offer his hand to his admirer, but upon returning dressed as a marquis, Eva does not want him—she wants the exotic. Thus Robinson returns to the Indies, tantalizing the woman into a love affair goose chase. "Miss Robinson" was performed in three acts, with libretto by Paul Ferrier and music by Louis Varney. Choubrac's imagining of this alluring world and its quixotic heroine is enticing to us, as well.
Fin de Siècle was an art and literary magazine published from December of 1890 through 1909. Choubrac created at least two designs for the journal—the first featured another beauty atop a crescent moon, but the image of a scantily clad performer was banned by the Ministry of the Interior's Ernest Constans (otherwise known as "The Father of Modesty"). This image, of a demure damsel in more modest attire, was the chaste replacement for the indecent cover.
To advertise the summer program of (mostly) Greek tragedy at the Freilicht Theater in Lucerne, Cardinaux illustrates a scene from one of the classics in his own modern idiom that remains evocative of ancient fresco aesthetics.
Both Lautrec’s first poster as well as his first lithograph, the Moulin Rouge design marked not only a new direction for the artist, but for art and advertising in general. It is a masterpiece in every respect of the word, magnificently capturing the essence of two popular performers at the music hall -- the dancer La Goulue and her partner Valentin le Désossé. By leaving the paper blank, Lautrec captures dead center the heart and soul of the cancan: the rush and swirl of layer upon layer of lacy petticoats, erotically calling to the viewer. In a letter to his mother, Lautrec writes: “I am still waitng for my poster to come out -- there is some delay in the printing. But it has been fun to do. I had a feeling of authority over the whole studio, a new feeling for me” (Lautrec by Lautrec, p. 90). This is the two-sheet version of the poster, without the top text banner. It should be noted that this is the way that it was sold in the 1890s. With the missing banner, it would have been too large for the print galleries and print collectors who began the collecting craze of the era. And how prized was this image at the time? Arnould, in his 1896 catalogue, sold it for the highest price of any French poster: 25 francs, which was 10 times the price of the Elles poster and five times the price of La Revue Blanche. Rare then, rarer still today!
Condition: B+ /unobtrusive folds, slight tears in victim's coat
Based on the memories of a retired police chief, “Les Mystères de la Tour Pointue” (Mysteries of the Pointed Tower) is one of many autobiographical installments in this series which ran for at least two years in Le Journal. Each involved some sort of gruesome murder, such as the one portrayed here in which a dastardly pair strangle an elderly gentleman, presumably over what is or is not written on the pages placed on the table.
"Because early automobiles... were expensive and tires were a costly accompanying necessity, both products were marketed to the wealthy. Some artists, such as A. Yimaz, gently mocked the elite. [Here], four monkeys cause a ruckus as they drive over a log and a pile of rocks while two rabbits dart out of harm's way. By replacing humans with monkeys dressed in clothes of the upper class, Yimaz lampoons the social elite, whose autos reflected their affluence" (Discount, p. 10).
In 1903, The New York Times printed a review of La Sorcière (The Witch) titled "Sardou Play Triumphs: 'La Sorciere' and Sarah Bernhardt Accorded a Great Ovation in Paris," where it opened December 15, 1903. And Abbéma's promotion is appropriately triumphant as well: Bernhardt takes the central focus of the design, with the azure lettering and slight shadows drawing out Bernhardt's opalescent jewels, serene eyes, and the flowers in her luxurious gown. The play was written by Victorien Sardou, and Bernhardt played its star, Zoraya, at her namesake theatre in Paris. As The New York Times concludes, "The dramatic interest was splendidly kept up and Bernhardt's personation of the Moorish girl was magnificent. The staging and the accessories were worthy of this [mastery] of Sardou. The audience was extremely enthusiastic and gave the actress repeated ovations."
The Forty Thieves first premiered on stage at Drury Lane in London in 1806; by 1860, it had spawned a wide variety of burlesque adaptations starring women in all of the male roles. An 1886 rendition of the silent play was highly praised: "The most greatly admired aspect of The Forty Thieves was the splendour, beauty, and variety of costumes... Almost all critics agreed that nothing so splendid had ever been seen on the stage; the Echo thought that every scene 'is a beautiful work of pictorial art'" (Victorian Spectacular Theatre 1850-1910, p. vii). Though undated, we believe this pantomime promotion is from ca. 1920.
Nothing is known about the career or life of Katharine Roland other than this poster, which hypes her up as "America's Favorite" for her danse illuminée in the vein of the much more famous Loïe Fuller. The poster presumably promotes London performances of her illuminating work.
Today, Paris's Jardin Zoologique is a children's amusement park—but the zoo has serious skeletons in its closet. Opened in 1860 by Napoleon III, early intentions were innocent enough: botanical exhibitions featured acclimating plants and animals from France's colonies. But during the siege of Paris from 1870-1871, many of the animals were cooked and served by the zoo's chef. Thereafter, it was converted into l'Acclimatation Anthropologique—a human zoo—with surprising amounts of attendees (some one million visitors from 1877-1912). This particular promotion touts an exhibition of Sinhalese people from Sri Lanka. These barbaric affairs continued until 1931, when the owners finally realized their wrongs, and converted the venue into a children's attraction. This woodblock-engraved poster includes a color tip-on by Léon Sault.
"We see here the uniting of two circus dynasties: the Schumanns and the Rivels. Gotthold Schumann was a leading horse trainer; while his son Albert worked in Berlin, his younger son Max established the circus in Denmark. The Rivel brothers gained fame in the 1920s with a variety of European circuses and eventually performed separately. The most famous was Charlie. Antoni beautifully captures the mastery of this clown, and this design has been widely used by other circuses who have employed Rivel since then. Antoni made close to 200 posters in his too-brief lifetime; this poster he loved the most of all—a feeling we can all share with him" (Circus Posters, p. 15).
The Great Acrobatic Party is a grandiose event indeed, as one can glean from the exhaustive list of events presented: ascension of the first balloon, a regular balloon launch followed by a second group equipped with automatic release parachutes, an aerial cyclist performance (using a balloon without basket, valve, or stopping gear, etc. mounted by M. Gilbert, world champion, and the only one to go up 10,000 feet in space on a bicycle), raining flowers and parachutes, concerts, and an acrobatic party featuring the burlesque acrobats Fred and Jack (plus Juliani, the late-century juggler from Cirque d'Été; Smith, the reptile man from Nouveau Cirque; antipode exercises; Constanz-Ida of the Folies Bergère on a steel wire; and comic cyclists). But that's just the beginning. On the right-hand side of the poster, the regulations for the Balloon Rally are detailed: opposing teams—mimicking enemy countries—must pursue a balloon cyclist carrying privy information and return the captive on the same machine he flew away on. Later events include a women's race, followed by "Under the Butter Market," which features oxyradical light projection by M. Ludovic Gully from Rouen, accompanied by illuminations of the great boulevards and monuments of the city. Later, more concerts, a great torch light retreat, and a finale performance by the great M. Gilbert on his Gladiator aerocycle. Are you still with us? This poster was printed by woodblock and is engraved with a color tip-on of a balloon. All in all, it is a sensational and unique piece!
An experiment in color: from "rubaudo," Cappiello sets the scene in nothing but tones of red and splashes of white, creating a vibrant, homey warmth that is radiant but not overpowering. The scene, though, is empowering: these charcoal briquettes are so easy to light, the lady of the house will do it herself—to the surprise of the attendant maid.
Condition: B+ / slight tears and stains in top and bottom text areas
More commonly known for its English adaptation, The Marriage of Kitty, La Passerelle is a charming romantic comedy taking place, in part, aboard a ship. Here, the famed Gabrielle Réjane—rival of Sarah Bernhardt—is announced as the lead. It was her first performance in Paris after an eight-year world tour.
In case it slipped your mind, here's a simple reminder—in the form of a poster within a poster—that picking up a bottle or two of Deutz & Geldermann champagne might not be a bad idea. In 1838, two businessmen from the German town of Aachen—Peter Geldermann and Wilhelm Deutz—came to the French city of Aÿ-Sur-Marne, which is well-known for its famous champagne to this day. They settled into the Champagne region and established their winery that very year. The foundation of this vineyard initiated a unique dynasty that greatly influenced the story of French Champagne; the company's original grand marque house still produces bubbly to this day, though by another company.
A stunning lady in an exotic setting applies Bengaline paint to make the point that the product is used everywhere. Of course, even in the most remote lands, no one would be dressed in an opulent gown for house-painting, but seeing what it does for her allure, we'll gladly support the artist's license. Gaspar Camps was a Spanish graphic artist who was inspired by Mucha to the extent that he simply imitated him for a time; eventually he moved to Paris and produced posters with a Byzantine flavor.
"Luna Park was an amusement park at the Porte Maillot, near the Place de l'Etoile. Its director was Leon Volterra, who was the most important influence on the Parisian entertainment business for 30 years, as head of the Olympia, the Lido, the Théâtre de Paris, the Marigny, and other establishments. It was at Luna Park, on June 29, 1928, that a night of festivities was planned to raise money for a charity for needy, retired actors. Colin, as he was to do for so many groups and on so many occasions in the future, donated his talents to this worthy cause and in the process created a most delightful poster and—since it looks like it's going to be a fun evening and we'd want to go there for sure—a most effective poster as well" (Colin, p. 8).
Franz von Stuck was an integral member of the Munich Secession, and created several of their posters. This poster was the first to promote the group's seminal exhibitions at their exhibition space in Königsplatz, and this design would be adapted many times for their ongoing shows. A line drawing of the neoclassical building in which the exhibition was held is displayed at the bottom, while the profile of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Patroness of the Arts, reigns from above. A copy of this poster is also in the collection of Museum Villa Stuck in Munich.
“Originally seen from the back in an 1892 design writing the words 'Chocolat Menier' on a wall, she returned many times over the years, sometimes scrawling different words in other languages, but always cutting an irresistible tomboyish figure” (Gold, p. 43). This variant shows the girl scrawling the brand’s name on the wall.