There’s no denying that we’re crazy about posters—but sometimes, our favorite posterists make unique works that give invaluable insight to their creative process and artistic skill. Whether it’s a maquette for a later design or an inspired oil painting, these one-of-a-kind works are important components of the artist’s oeuvre—and they make for great eye candy, too.
All of the unique works below are part of our 77th Rare Posters Auction on February 24, 2019.
46 1/4 x 63 in./117.5 x 160 cm
A biplane soars above; a speedboat zooms below—this is a maquette for a poster advertising the 12th Auto, Boat and Plane Meeting in Monaco. It’s a relatively obscure show, but a documentary film was made of the 6th Meeting, in 1909; it’s likely the War intervened during the originally scheduled 12th annual Meet, and was picked up after the Armistice.
14 x 18 1/4 in./35.6 x 46.2 cm
This maquette is the image of Art Deco elegance: the streamlined stained glass panels, the women’s fur coats and Hollywood frocks, and of course, the cherry red Lincoln that reflects the evening light—all signs that this American luxury car is perfect for the French bourgeoisie. In fact, the Saint-Didier model was advertised as “la voiture de vrai luxe.”
17 1/2 x 25 in./45.6 x 63.4 cm
This maquette provides a delightful look at Cappiello’s process: his rough lines, outlined letters, and splashes of color in gouache, ink, and crayon lay the foundation for his later finalized work. “Cappiello must have been honored and pleased to do a poster for the spa in his hometown of Livorno and he went all out to show us a joyful woman holding up a string of Japanese lanterns that spell out the name of the resort. The many art and sport exhibitions scheduled are listed in the lower [left] area” (Rennert, 23). Notations in the left margin give some color instructions.
11 1/2 x 14 3/4 in./29.2 x 37.5 cm
By the looks of this hand signed crayon maquette, Cappiello has been seduced by the charms and whims of Queen Antinea, descendant of the rulers of Atlantis, and charmer of men from Pierre Benoit’s 1919 fantasy novel, “L’Atlantide.” In the story, she has a cave wall with 120 niches carved into it, one for each of her lovers; with 53 filled, she needs to reach a total of 120, at which point she will sit atop a throne in the center of the cave and rest forever. Here we see her gently floating upward, curls bobbing in the breeze, as she drifts towards her ultimate fate. It is not clear if this was a design intended for a poster or an illustration.
47 x 15 in./119.5 x 38.2 cm
Here we see Cappiello’s painterly hand at work: the impressionist scene recalls Van Gogh’s daubs of blistering color, most notable in the contrasting blues and oranges of the water, and the fiery red sky. America and France are illustrated as angel-like women on either side of the dock, as ships and sailors come sailing forward in an act of maritime cooperation.
48 3/4 x 35 in./124 x 89 cm
Caro-Delvaille’s paintings of elegant Parisian interiors—and the women who inhabit them—won him many Salon prizes. This restrained yet intimate moment in a sitting room—an interpretation bordering on the voyeuristic—is a ravishing example of his vision let loose on lithography. The text on the completed version of the poster describes L’Art Décoratif as “a monthly review of modern art.”
57 1/2 x 43 1/4 in./146 x 110 cm
In the tradition of the impressionist flaneurs, Chéret attended the dance halls of Montmartre, where the farandole dance proved inspiring to many painters, including Matisse. The lively, follow-the-leader dance involved men and women holding hands while running and skipping along a meandering path. In Chéret’s depiction, the winsome dancers appear out of the blue and pink haze, as if emerging out of a dream. Chéret uses expressive brush strokes to imbue a sense of movement and energy, and employs Impressionistic broken colors to bring the scene to life. Not only are his technical skills here beautiful and impressive—the sheer scale of this painting is a rare and unique specimen from his oeuvre.
14 3/8 x 18 in./36.5 x 45.8 cm
This intimate pastel and crayon drawing may not at first evince the layers of meaning that Mucha instilled within it. Mucha created this work at a time when the Czech Republic underwent many sociopolitical changes, including the proclamation of the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic (CSR) in October, 1918. The woman here becomes an allegorical personification of growth and peace—she holds in her hand branches that have symbolized growth and freedom since the middle ages. Alongside Mucha’s consideration for the future, his technical skills here are brilliant: his sensitive pencil strokes and restrained use of color create an incredibly tender and unique image.
10 3/4 x 14 3/4 in./27.2 x 37.6 cm
The graphic stylings here may at first appear to be from a mid-20th century comic book—but this maquette for a store advertisement is from 1925. Rendered in stark black and white, the artist provides two suggestions for posters that prompt customers to gift an umbrella or gloves to their man.
17 3/8 x 24 3/4 in./44 x 63 cm
In this study for the final poster, Villemot reveals that the sunburn was a later addition to his sunbather, which here creates a more understated effect—though no less brilliant. The embrace of the water bottle is just as tender, if not more so, as she leans down as if whispering to the vessel. And the designer pillows are here just as textural and delightful. Without the later text requesting trust in Contrex, this scene becomes an intimate portrayal of a woman at rest.
24 3/4 x 19 3/8 in./63 x 49.2
In this maquette for Contrex, the scene is nearly photographic—note the cropping of her body and Goldilocks ringlets—and the color is sensational, even vibrating. Our sunburned bather, outlined in the gold of her hair, pops out from the intensely contrasting colors of the background, and offers forth a glass of Contrex as if to say, “But remember, ladies—pinkies out.”
Sunday, February 24 at 11am EST
for full details on all 435 lots