Published: August 21, 2001
NEW YORK CITY – The art nouveau section of Swann Galleries’ Vintage Posters auction on August 1 was especially well received.
“There will always be a market for high end, turn-of-the-century work by recognized masters such as Alphonse Mucha,” said Nicholas Lowry, president and posters specialist. “In general, higher end pieces sold more consistently than lower end. It is easier to sell a $5,000 poster than a $500 poster.”
The featured rdf_Description, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s well-known lithograph “Divan Japonais,” Paris, 1893, sold for $18,400. The fifth poster created by Lautrec, it depicts two patrons at a performance in a small Parisian café concert. Instead of focusing on the star of the show (whose head is cut off by the top left-hand corner of the sheet), Lautrec gives center stage to the patrons Jane Avril and Edouard Dujardin, celebrities themselves.
Among the many Muchas were “The Seasons,” Paris, 1897, $3,450; “Repose de la Nuit,” Paris, 1899, from the “Times of the Day” series, showing a young woman sleeping in the midst of a peaceful nighttime forest, $8,050; “Spring,” Paris, 1900, the fifth of six known variations of the 1900 printing, without the names of the printers that are usually boldly included at the bottom, $6,440; “Nectar,” 1902, from Documents Decoratifs, plate 14, which was used purely as an instructional example of advertising techniques for art students, $4,600; and “Slavnostni Hra Na Vltave,” Prague, 1925, announcing a pageant to accompany the quadrennial Sokol athletic competition, $5,060. Privat Livemont’s “Cherubs,” 1903, a frieze of eight beribboned toddlers garlanded with pink flowers cavorting in a green field, achieved $2,990.
Other important European works included Pierre Bonnard’s advertisement for the creative journal La Revue Blanche, Paris, 1894, $3,680; Arnost Hoffbauer’s “Topicuv Salon,” 1898, for the literary and artistic organization in Prague that exhibited the work of both Czech and foreign artists, $3,680; and Vladimir Zupansky’s announcement for a retrospective of Rodin’s sculpture in Prague in 1902, which sold for $8,050.
Among Twentieth Century European product advertisements were Eugene Oge’s “Waterman,” Paris, 1919, whose image of a seated woman, armed with an immense pen, with a scrolled peace treaty at her side, refers to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and implies that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” $3,680; and two invitations to pleasure by Leonetto Cappiello, “Contratto,” Turin, 1922, showing a lady as effervescent as the champagne that is about to drench her, $3,680, and “Cognac Monnet,” Paris, 1927, $4,830.
For the height of chic, there were Jean Dupas’ fashion poster for the Arnold Constable department store, Paris, 1928, $4,140; and L. Caillaud’s flappers dressed in Eaton’s spring fashions, Paris, 1930, $3,910. Delpy’s “Foire de Paris,” 1939, makes clever use of typography to show various Parisian enjoyments, $3,450; and the playful “Chocolat/Delespaul-Havez” advertises hot chocolate for the preschool set, $3,680.
On a more serious note, there were examples of political propaganda from World War II, including Gino Boccasile’s “Liberator,” circa 1942, that, in an allegory of unnecessary destruction, shows an African-American fighter pilot smashing his fist into an already bombed out Italian city, $3,220; and Norman Rockwell’s quartet “The Four Freedoms,” 1943, in the rare large format, referencing President Roosevelt’s 1941 speech designed to rally Americans to fight, $3,680.
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