Let’s Fall in Love (with Posters!)

330 Featured

This Valentine’s Day, we naturally turned to posters for romantic inspiration. Couples appear frequently in posters throughout the ages as a hook to draw in passersby, and with good reason: anyone can relate to the feeling of being in love—or, at the very least, the feeling of yearning for love. In honor of V-Day (or Galentine’s Day, if you prefer), our Editorial Director, Jessica Adams, has plucked some of her favorite romantic posters from our upcoming 77th Rare Posters Auction. Read on for her thoughts on each of these heart-throbbing designs.

But first: let's set the mood

The Posters:
287. L'Hiver à Monte-Carlo. 1937.
By Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962)
20 3/8 x 39 1/4 in./62 x 99.7 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

Ah, to be a beautiful socialite in a Domergue poster. Though I’m usually more of a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of gal, I have to admit that this image draws out the part of me that wants to wear a Jazz Age cocktail dress to a lavish Monte-Carlo party, and be escorted by a dapper dude who can pull off a top hat. Domergue managed to not only embody this lifestyle, but depict it beautifully as well. Are you swooning yet?

298. Flirt. 1900.
By Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
11 1/4 x 25 in./28.6 x 63.5 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

Leave it to Mucha to create the ultimate secret garden romance scene, replete with an impeccably dressed young duo. I can’t help but get a kick out of the lady’s side-eye, though—what flirtatious tricks does she have up her sleeve? Mucha also employed a bit of trickery in this design for Biscuits Lefèvre-Utile: note that there is not a single biscuit to be seen, and the company’s name is so interwoven in the design that it nearly fades away. But the artist created an indelible and sensuous image that permeates our conscience.

330. Harper's / February. 1895.
By Edward Penfield (1866-1925)
12 3/4 x 18 3/8 in./32.6 x 46.7 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

For most, February is synonymous with candy hearts and secret admirers (and let’s not forget: freezing cold weather). But for me, V-Day is a signifier that my birthday is fast approaching—I like to think of the holiday as a chocolate and red wine pre-game to the main event a week later. Penfield certainly captures my feeling of blustery anticipation in this cover for Harper’s.

339. Bal de l'AAAA. 1930.
By Paul Emile Pissarro (1884-1972)
30 1/2 x 46 1/2 in./77.3 x 118 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Just imagine: it’s a masquerade artists’ party, the absinthe is flowing, the jazz is rollicking, and you and your sweetheart are dancing to your favorite tune under a wash of prismatic light. Pissarro certainly delivers with this design for the Aide Amicale Aux Artistes—an annual masked ball to support the arts, which that year took place at Magic City, a famed dance-hall competitor to the Moulin Rouge. How do I RSVP?!

359. Premier Amour.
By Paul De Sémant (1855-1915)
53 5/8 x 75 1/4 in./136.2 x 191.2 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

This scene just oozes with sentimental notes: puppy-dog eyes that glisten, tender hand-holding, and the brushes of spring blooms against the lovers’ backs. Sémant designed this image to promote the serialization of “First Love,” an unpublished novel by Michel Morphy. Though the publication never saw the light of day, this image preserves that unmistakeable feeling of butterflies that accompanies young infatuation.

409. Roméo et Juliette. 1897.
By Jacques Wely (Ca. 1875-1910)
58 1/2 x 78 5/8 in./148.7 x 199.8 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

From one young love to the most iconic young love of all time: this poster promotes Roméo et Juliette in the form of an illustrated romance novel by Jules Gardoze. I think we’re all pretty familiar with the infamous balcony scene, so I’ll let Roméo take it from here: “With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do that dares love attempt; Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.”

356. Bal du Cinéma. 1953.
By Raymond Savignac (1907-2002)
14 1/8 x 22 1/2 in./36 x 57 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

And now for a different kind of romance, though no less charming. For this cinema ball to benefit film technicians, Savignac has given us a sprightly duo of lovers on screen—with a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the man’s secret to his height—because sometimes love is about making yourself seem more desirable to the object of your affection.

318. "A L'Abri." 1909.
By Orlowa
46 3/8 x 62 5/8 in./117.8 x 159.2 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

This poster is all about innocent heart-warming imagery. These two adorable kiddos float high above Montpellier with the aid and protection of this umbrella-fabric manufacturer. Wouldn’t you love to be swept away like this?

403. Porto Ramos-Pinto. ca. 1920.
By René Vincent (1879-1936)
14 x 20 in./35.6 x 50.8 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

Could you imagine a more appropriate poster for Valentine’s Day? Vincent serves it up: two red-lipped lovers lean in for a kiss while a cherub presents them with a fine glass of port. Bottoms up, babes.

150. La Marquisette. 1901.
By Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)
39 x 81 1/4 in./99 x 206.5 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

Ladies, here is a special Galentine’s Day tribute to you—and to your bold and brazen friend who always tempts you with a sip of booze (we’ve all got one of those in our lives, right?) Cappiello’s design for Marquisette illuminates that giddy, trusting, anything-goes exuberance that exists between two femmes enjoying the day together—with a bit of dessert liqueur, of course. À votre santé!

These items are available at auction
Sunday, February 24 at 11am EST