International Poster Gallery confirms the notion that the best things come in small packages in its tenth annual Summer Show, “Mini-Masterpieces.” The show features several newly acquired collections of original poster miniatures, in-store displays, magazine covers and luggage labels from the 1890s to 1945.
Many of the greatest designers of the Twentieth Century are represented, including Cassandre, Cappiello, Toulouse-Lautrec, Dudovich, Parrish, Bradley, Leyendecker, Matter and Bayer. For starters, the gallery’s huge new collection of antique magazine covers contains classics from Le Rire and Jugend, the French and German satire magazines from the turn-of-the-century, to American classics from Harper’s, Asia, Inland Printer the old Life, Fortune, The New Yorker, Stage and Vogue. There are Cassandre covers from Harper’s Bazaar; Erte, Marty and Benito covers from Vogue; Frank McIntosh from Asia; and Rockwell from The Saturday Evening Post.
The gallery has also assembled a large collection of in-store displays, usually cardboard-backed, miniposters that would accompany products in stores. Oftentimes, these would be the same design as the full-scale posters appearing on kiosks and hoardings around the city. Notable examples include the Bertozzi Parmigiano cheese ads featuring three large noses savoring a hunk of parmesan and Nizzoli’s Deco-inspired design of a rooster for an aperitif.
The show includes two important turn-of-the-century sets of poster miniatures. In Italy, the most talented artists worked for the music publisher Ricordi, creating posters for opera, retailers and other clients. The show features an original portfolio of miniatures from Ricordi, 70 plates of its posters from 1900 to 1914 — Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Corriere della Sera and a dozen masterpieces from the Mele Department store series by Dudovich, Metlicovitz, Cappiello and Terzi.
From France is the complete “Maitres de L’Affiche,” of “Masters of the Poster,” 1895-1900, an original series of 256 of the greatest posters of the Belle Epoque, rendered in portfolio size. These small-scale lithographic treasures were published by Jules Cheret and include posters by 97 artists including Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha, Bonnard, Cheret, Livemont, Parrish, Bradley and Hohenstein.
The show is rounded out by a collection of luggage labels from all over the world. Beginning in the late Nineteenth Century, hotels gave these to guests to apply to their bags as a memento of the stay and as a status symbol.
Since opening in 1994, International Poster Gallery has hosted more than 30 thematic exhibitions of original vintage posters.
The exhibition, through September 3, is free and open to the public. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday, noon to 6 pm, at 205 Newbury Street. Call 617-375-0076 or visit internationalposter.com for information.