Uncommon finds: Non-posters by Posterists

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For the posterist, maquettes are a vital component of the creative process: they provide the necessary platform to shape ideas into images, troubleshoot compositions, and finalize the design approach. And in a field devoted to multiples, these preparatory works are often the only one-of-a-kind works available from a posterist. Our 78th Rare Posters Auction features plenty of fantastic uncommon finds, from early designs for Michelin and Mercedes to Paul Colin’s divine maquettes for La Revue Nègre and Loïe Fuller.

26. Pneus Férres Gallus : Maquette. ca. 1900.
By Yvonne Brudo
19 1/2 x 25 1/2 in./49.5 x 64.7 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Brudo’s preparatory drawing is rich with texture and an experimental use of color—note the splash of teal that speckles this lady’s coat. “Yvonne Brudo is one of just three female artists—Louise Charbonnier and Jessie Wilcox being the other two—whose work appears in Discount Tire’s collection of more than 325 lithographs. A member of the Society of French Artists, Brudo painted portraits, landscapes, and marine subjects in addition to executing advertising designs. To emphasize the lightness of the Gallus tire, she shows a beautiful woman bearing the product aloft with one hand. The light tires that began appearing around the turn of the twentieth century provided a smoother ride” (Discount, p. 66).

By E. Thelem (Ernest Barthélemy Lem, 1869-1930)
Poster: 22 5/8 x 32 in./57.5 x 81.2 cm
Maquette: 12 x 16 1/4 in./30.5 x 41.2 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

Presented as one lot, Thelem’s preparatory maquette and finalized poster offer an insightful view into the artist’s process for one of his most acclaimed works. This sporty gentleman “assumes a calculatedly casual posture against his new Peugeot motorbike to observe a woman’s lawn tennis game, and one of the players approaches for a closer look. One must admire the women for playing in their confining clothes. Ironically, the Peugeot family made its fortune manufacturing corsets before it turned to cycles in 1885” (Gold, p. 54). (2)

50. Michelin : Maquette. 1911.
By Henri Edmond Rudaux (1870-1927)
31 7/8 x 15 7/8 in./81 x 40.2 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

With the death of Ernest Montaut in 1909, his printer, Théodule Mabileau, continued to produce sporting prints with several artists who had been part of the Montaut studio, including Henri Rudaux. This maquette—though its purpose is mysterious—perseveres as a total charmer. A cigar-puffing Bibendum waves his palm at contenders of the 1911 Grand Prix race, who are rendered in hazy pastel hues against a wash of sunset-filtered landscape. But the question remains: what was the artist preparing for? The image appears not to have been used as one of the many published sporting prints which Mabileau printed and which was his specialty.

51. Benz : Maquette. 1911.
By Henri Edmond Rudaux (1870-1927)
31 3/8 x 15 1/4 in./79.7 x 38.8 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

Rudaux creates another delightful maquette, this time for Benz, which was still in its formative years, and had not yet merged with Mercedes. In 1909, the company had finished construction on a large new factory in Mannheim, and had just begun production of their race cars and consumer automobiles. In 1909, their Blitzen Benz—driven by the Frenchman Victor Hémery—destroyed all previous speed records set by automobiles, ships, and even airplanes when it reached 202.7 km/h (about 126 mph). Interestingly, the company stopped participating in road races this year—in fact, an industrywide boycott occurred after the 1908 Grand Prix, in which Mercedes won first and Benz took second. Talk about auto drama! Nevertheless, Rudaux’s sprightly maquette gives us a sense of the revolutionary moment. As with the previous drawing, no printed copy exists. In top left margin, a hand written note in German likely addresses Benz manager Josef Brecht, and adds “not for reproduction.”

177. Lait : Maquette.
By A. Andréas (1864-1899)
8 5/8 x 14 1/4 in./22 x 36.2 cm
Est: $4,000-$6,000

There’s no denying the striking resemblance of Andréas’ preparatory drawing and Steinlen’s triumphant Lait pur Stérilisé (see no. 450). For all that they share in charm and general composition, they contrast wildly in attitude: Steinlen’s girl (and her cats) are impeccably behaved, while Andréas gives us full-on winsome mayhem—clumsily spilled milk, cats running amok, and a girl shocked at her own mistake. But aside from the cat that’s been shocked by the sudden chaos, the rest of the felines seem perfectly content—good milk, indeed.

202. Un Flirt : Maquette.
By Umberto Brunelleschi (1879-1949)
14 x 16 in./35.5 x 40.5 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

This maquette features a hand-signed dedication and artist’s notes along the margins, offering a privileged look into the working processes of Brunelleschi. Flirting couples were a common subject for him, and they ranged in environment, characters, and even sexuality—but none evince the amount of sass present in this tantalizing moment in the boudoir. We can only imagine what is transpiring here, or what made this buxom lady strike such a pose—but it’s certainly a real gem of a drawing.

220. Hospital Scene : Maquette.
By Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)
16 1/4 x 9 3/4 in./41.3 x 24.8 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

Little information exists on this dramatic scene by Cappiello for an unknown play—but we were able to attain the names of the two star actors displaying tense bereavement here: Maurice de Féraudy and Marie Thérèse Pierat. Pierat was a student of Féraudy’s, and they performed in several plays together.

250. La Revue Nègre : Maquette. 1925.
By Paul Colin (1892-1986)
9 1/8 x 11 1/4 in./23.3 x 31 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

“This poster, which launched the career of both Josephine Baker and Paul Colin, is one of the finest examples of Art Deco work in this medium and created a great impression in the field of poster art. That it was almost accidentally created, in a great rush, by an unknown painter and an obscure dancer who had never previously met each other, gives the story the added quality and appeal of a fairy tale. In Colin’s recollections… he takes the lion’s share of the credit for having discovered Josephine, who was, in fact, the star of the show as soon as it opened. He remembers the arrival of the troupe: ‘I can still see them: The women wore high-button shoes, green shoes with red laces, and they had a veritable garden growing on their head with forget-me-nots and other floral decorations. The men were dressed with equal gaudiness, color and flourish. The music was intoxicating. And the star [Maud de Forrest]… was a fine woman, but too hefty and physically not very interesting. So I looked among the girls for a more pleasing subject and I found a very beautiful girl, above all a very beautiful body, and I found her: Josephine Baker'” (Colin, p. 7). This rare and very completed Colin maquette shows that with a few strokes he was able to get all the energy of the show and its star; in the final printing, the eyebrows are a bit more modest and the bow tie takes on a new color, but otherwise the artist’s drawing and inspiration are fully realized in the design and the attitude of the printed poster.

251. Loïe Fuller : Maquette. ca. 1925.
By Paul Colin (1892-1986)
45 x 59 1/4 in./114.3 x 150.5 cm
Est: $20,000-$25,000

Colin indicated that he had to make another poster for Loïe Fuller before actually meeting her (see PAI-LIII, 208), but that he created another thereafter—it was never printed, but was discovered in the office of his art school in Paris. This remarkable modernist vision with surrealist overtones stands on its own as an important document of Art Deco significance. It is interesting to compare the official, printed poster and this masterful maquette—whereas the poster still places the dancer in the eye of a prismatic hurricane, his artwork—doubtlessly enriched by having seen Fuller in person—casts the dancer as the very flame of pyrotechnic innovation, a flash-and-swirl of conflagrant colors to which no corporeal entity is attached. Colin, in a move that can be described as nothing short of genius, captures the precise spirit of the performer without requiring her presence. It’s simply and utterly brilliant.

291. Peppermint and Puffs : Maquette.
By Charles Gesmar (1900-1928)
9 3/8 x 15 1/2 in./24 x 39.4 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

Perhaps Mistinguett’s greatest talent was her ability to fling herself into any situation, equally at ease draped in pearls or in a ragamuffin’s patches. Regardless of the exaggeration or overstatement, she filled the stage with a verve that was all her own. Take for example this hand-signed Gesmar costume drawing—an extravagant assemblage of candy stripes, feathery excess, and the subtly-startling contrast of provocative stilettos—an ensemble that discretely plays innocence off of femininity. And yet knowing what we do of the artist, it is not far-fetched to imagine her making this design as much a part of her persona as her dazzling smile.

348. Café : Maquette.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
47 x 62 1/2 in./119.2 x 158.7 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

This maquette appears to have never been developed into a poster—but it provides a great look into the artist’s process and creative planning. His chic coffee drinker combines the colors and aesthetics of his graphic Café Precia (see PAI-LXII, 462) with the fashion-forward attitude of his designs for Fourrures Canton. This is a signed maquette, with provenance from the artist’s studio.

385. Seated Nude : Pencil Print. 1898.
By Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
8 x 11 in./20.5 x 28 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

In this intimate and sensitive drawing, Mucha allows us to focus on his artistic skills—no frills, no ornamentation, just a refined use of line and form. The locks of her hair, the billows in the sheet, and the bark of the tree are all rendered exquisitely.

By Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
Maquette: 14 1/2 x 27 3/8 in./37 x 51.8 cm
Program: 7 x 8 3/4 in./17.7 x 22.2 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

Steinlen, the King of Cats, created the greatest cat-poster of them all for Le Chat Noir, a Montmartre cabaret founded by Rodolphe Salis. In 1897, Salis died. For a short time, the premises on the Rue Victor Masse were operated under the name Hotel du Pacha Noir (the hotel which is not the Chat Noir). Steinlen caterwauled his services with this illustrated program for the venue. The composition, of a convocation of cats in awe and obeisance to the Cat King, lit by the light of the full Moon, is extremely similar to an illustration in Steinlen’s “Book of Cats and Other Beasts” (see PAI-LXXV, 453). On the lower right, a morbid flourish: a dead chat noir (perhaps an homage to the original hotel). The lot consists of a signed gouache and ink maquette and a color printed program. The fortunes of the Hotel were so tentative that not a single remaining poster, maquette, or proof for the venue (for which Grün tried his hand as well) lists any performers for the evening’s entertainment. (2)

480. Bergasol : Maquette. ca. 1977.
By Bernard Villemot (1911-1989)
24 x 18 7/8 in./61 x 48 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Villemot turned on the brights for this preliminary design for Bergasol. It was never used for a final poster—perhaps our bathing beauty is a tinge too orange—but it’s a perfect example of Villemot’s ability to create an enchanting scene with unexpected color combinations and a simple use of line.

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