These Aren’t Posters, but They Are Rare, Vintage, and Cool as Hell

Pai Lxxv Blog Header Not Posters
From promotional fans and periodicals to original illustrations and pamphlets, not everything in a Rare Posters auction is a poster. Below we highlight some of the best non-posters available in our June 26 auction.
429. Mistinguett : Maquette.
By René Ranson
12 x 15 1/4 in./30.5 x 39 cm
Signed watercolor, gouache and pencil maquette. Framed.
Est: $2,500 - $3,000

Best known for his many Deco-inspired costume designs during the heyday of Parisian music hall performances, Ranson presents us with this particularly glamorous maquette for Mistinguett, a grandiose fluffery of headdress and skirts – even extending to the adornment of her greyhound – while she shimmers, all legs and silver sparkle and pearls. For an evocation of Jazz Age fantasies, this work has few peers.

322. Mistinguett and the Swan : Maquette.
By Charles Gesmar
14 x 12 1/8 in./35.5 x 30.8 cm
Hand-signed gouache and crayon maquette. Framed.
Est: $1,700 - $2,000

Possibly a design for a show spectacular, Gesmar’s drawing has Mistinguett reclining in the lap of a gigantic swan, eyes narrowed in the bliss of luxury, breasts peeking out from a diaphanous dress.

289. Moët & Chandon.
By Georges Clairin
23 5/8 x 12 3/8 in./60 x 31.5 cm
Est: $1,700 - $2,000

It is but a promotional fan. Yet it contains the drama of a Renaissance Old Master; the festivity of the Commedia dell’Arte; a sense of occasion as much as the Venice Carnival; and the detail of a French 19th-century Realist painting. All this together, in this scene of theatrical masquerade, epitomizes the Moët & Chandon brand.

257. Heavenly Fragrances : Maquette. 1920.
By Leonetto Cappiello
91 x 59 5/8 in./231 x 151.5 cm
Signed gouache, pastel and crayon maquette. Framed.
Est: $35,000 - $45,000

One of the largest maquettes we’ve ever seen, this gouache, pastel and crayon original appears to be taking inspiration from Michelangelo, with Cherubs of La Toilette aloft and gamboling as if they were frescoes on a Renaissance church ceiling. This is not a design for a poster, but rather a maquette for one of the seven decorative panels which graced a grocery store (“une coopérative de consommation”) at 20 rue Goujon in Paris in 1920. One emphasized the teas and coffees offered there, another the charcuterie, yet another the vegetables; and this one, the perfumes and hair products available there. As the many journals which covered the opening of “L’Epicerie Artistique” indicated that these decorative panels were unsigned, it’s clear from this signed work that it is a preparatory and not a final work. It is certainly “rough” in the sense that the overlapping pieces show the creative tensions in bringing disparate elements into a cohesive whole. Unique and impressive!

235. Chocolat Menier. 1897.
By Firmin Bouisset
65 3/8 x 76 3/4 in./166 x 195 cm
Signed oil on canvas. Framed.
Est: $40,000 - $50,000

From the archives of Chocolat Menier, used in their exhibition at the Brussels World Fair of 1897. Menier was one of the world’s oldest chocolate companies, founded in 1816. At that time, chocolate wasn’t a sweet, but a medicinal product, and Menier classified itself as a pharmaceutical manufacturer. In 1893 the company began using posters created Bouisset, featuring a little girl using a piece of chocolate to write the name Chocolat Menier on a wall or window. The girl’s adorable “chocolate graffiti” was soon embraced as an international symbol of the company. Bouisset’s brainchild would be featured on Menier’s packaged products as well as on promotional items such as reusable tin ware, creamers, bowls, sugar dishes, plates, canister sets, and even children’s exercise books.

48. Avoir sa Benz. ca. 1920.
By Anonymous
14 3/4 x 22 5/8 in./37.5 x 57.5 cm
Est: $3,500 - $4,000

Extremely rare, this euphoric lithograph for Mercedes-Benz France is captioned, “To have her Benz”; the English version proclaims “my Benz: the joy of owning a Benz.” The detail is exquisite, right down to the leopard-print on the upper heel of her pumps. The artist’s signature is indistinct and indecipherable.

292. La Machine a Calculer : Maquette. 1925.
By Paul Colin
19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in./50 x 70 cm
Gouache and ink on board. Framed.
Est: $5,000 - $6,000

This is a maquette on behalf of the French production of Elmer Rice’s 1923 play “The Adding Machine,” a landmark of American expressionism, which focuses on Mr. Zero, an accountant at a large, faceless company. After 25 years, he’s replaced by an adding machine. Shocking and ironic drama ensues. An extremely rare example of Colin stripping away all conventions of commercial art, and Jazz Age trappings, to arrive at a pure Modernist interpretation of a mind deep in calculation. The play was revived for the autumn 2017 season at Dallas’s Theater Three.

By Paul Iribe
Each: 9 7/8 x 12 5/8 in./25.2 x 32 cm
Proofs; three with hand-colored film overlays.
Est: $2,000 - $2,500

After a stint as a Hollywood set decorator, Paul Iribe returned to France in 1929 and contracted with the printer Draeger, a job he’d have for the rest of his life. One of the first assignments he received was to illustrate several pamphlets from Nicolas, the famed wine merchant, that praised the glories of wine. These are four (quite amusing) original hand-colored proofs from those pamphlets, which include two particularly famous images: “ELLE vous attend depuis 40 ans!” (She [the vintage bottle] has been waiting 40 years for you!) and “Elle m’a commande un cocktail” (she ordered a cocktail, leading Nicolas’ sommelier, Nectar, to faint right there in the restaurant). In the other two, the gentleman is enraptured by the glass Nicolas is pouring him, while his date applies makeup. Three have hand-colored film overlays.

Each: 9 3/4 x 12 1/4 in./25 x 31 cm
Est: $5,000 - $7,000

Collection of all individual issues, #1 1927 to #68, 1939, packaged into 17 hardcover volumes. Hundreds of posters are reproduced herein – many of which have never been recovered – and many are shown as tip-ons and fold-outs. Special issues are also devoted to such topics as the posters for the Paris 1937 and the New York 1939 World’s Fairs, as well as in-depth articles on Chéret, Toulouse-Lautrec, Colin, Binder, Cappiello, Kauffer, etc. An altogether invaluable reference for the serious poster collector. We cannot guarantee completeness.

398. Máje. 1902.
By Alphonse Mucha
9 3/8 x 12 1/2 in./23.8 x 31.8 cm
Cover plus 12 pages of text of this literary magazine.
Est: $1,400 - $1,700

An allegorical maiden of May, cradling flowers upon her breast, comforts a pensive, Slavic-gowned woman in this moving image – the cover for a Czech literary magazine entitled Máje or “May.” The lot features the full magazine, or “literary almanac,” which was originally published between 1858 and 1862 by a group of authors who had retreated inward, away from politics, toward the soulfulness of Slavic cultural life, following the deaths of many intellectuals as the democratic revolutions of 1848 were suppressed. Presumably, the magazine’s name was revived around the turn of the 20th century; Mucha, by this time renowned as the visual poet of Slavic culture, was the obvious choice for illustrating this issue of October 17, 1902.

453. Book: Chats et Autres Bêtes. 1933.
By Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen
10 x 13 1/8 in./25.5 x 33.2 cm
One of 35 numbered copies printed on Imperial Japan paper.
Est: $3,500 - $4,000

This 208-page book features about 100 tip-on drawings by Steinlen of his favorite subject: Cats! Kitty-cats, pussens, meowsers: bounding, napping, stretching, curling, cuddling, licking milk… and, in one supreme master-stroke, convocating before the King of Cats in the light of the Moon, in the dark of nighttime Paris – possibly used for the Hotel du Pacha Noir (see No. 450). The “autres bêtes” incude monkeys and elephants. They’re all illustrating text by Georges Lecomte, who, as author and playwright, was a member of the French Academy.

464. Catalogue d’Affiches Artistiques / Arnould. 1896.
By Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec
5 3/4 x 9 3/8 in./14.7 x 24 cm
Complete book; in presentation case.
Est: $4,000 - $5,000

The original and complete catalogue, in book form, featuring 32 plates and Arnould’s price list of 451 posters: from Albinet to Yongh, a comprehensive look at the state of the art, and its valuation, at the height of the French poster craze. On the cover, a reproduction of Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithograph Le Débauche (The Debaucher). The debaucher in question is Lautrec’s painter-friend, Maxime Dethomas (1868-1928), shown fondling the breast of a woman, déshabillé. Frey makes an interesting observation: “It has been said of Dethomas both that he was an eager participant in seductions and brothel visits, and that he was in fact a little straight-laced and that Henry’s use [of him in this image] was a kind of teasing. Increasingly, however, when Henry showed his friends in compromising positions, it was because he had observed them thus” (p. 411). The 30 pages of prices will make the modern collector weep!