Lithographic World Travel

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For those of us who suffer from acute wanderlust, there is perhaps no better substitute for travel than becoming engrossed in images of far-away places. Travel posters are a great jumping-off point: they introduce us to new cities and landscapes through the artists’ unique and enticing points of view. For further indulgence, we traveled to poster destinations via Google Earth to compare the designers’ interpretations with the actual locations. Follow along with us as we travel the world through posters from our 79th Rare Posters Auction.

Tip: Links to Google Earth are included for each, which can be opened with Google Chrome

123D
Artist: Anonymous
25 1/4 x 39 7/8 in./64 x 101.2 cm
Est: $700-$900

This anonymous artist presents us with a bird’s eye view of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile near the riverway that enters the city from Lake Michigan. At the bottom right is the Wrigley Building—the former headquarters of the famed chewing gum—which was completed in 1924. The arched building that faces the Wrigley is a mixed-use commercial space. Continental Airlines was founded in 1934 and found notable success in the late 70s and 80s; in 2010, the airline merged with UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines.

140D
Artist: Roger Broders (1883-1953)
24 7/8 x 39 1/4 in./63.3 x 99.7 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000

At the Porte de L’Afrique du Nord, hoards of international ships fill the peaceful sea as they anticipate new trade opportunities resulting from PLM’s railway expansion. From Broder’s idealized vantage point, we glimpse the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, a church dedicated to the seafarer, rising on the hill; the dome to the left, of the Cathédrale La Major, has been shifted over by the artist to fit in the frame. Nevertheless, the geometric composition, specked with coral red and dreamy sea blue, is a powerful depiction of the monumental change beginning to shake Marseille—and today’s vantage illuminates just how much the port has evolved.

232D
Artist: Anonymous
24 3/4 x 37 1/4 in./63 x 94.5 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

If the luxurious beaches of Biarritz were not enough to sway you, Frank Sinatra’s hand-signed note should do the trick to get you fully on board: “The food’s a gasses / the broads are mothers / and the booze is fine!” The seaside town was a popular destination throughout the 1800s and early 1900s (Picasso, Hemingway, and Cocteau all frequented its beaches), but the German occupation and Allied bombing ravished the area. Thankfully, Ol’ Blue Eyes—along with Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth—rejuvenated the scene and restored the area’s former glory, which flourishes to this day. This poster is hand-signed by Frank Sinatra with a personal note.

255D
Artist: Roger Broders (1883-1953)
29 3/4 x 41 1/4 in./75.5 x 104.8 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

While many artists have chosen to portray the beauty of Florence bathed in sunlight, Broders gives the viewer a more intimate, romantic view of the famed city twinkling in the moonlight. While the artist’s perspective is a bit skewed, it’s quite remarkable to see how many details are not only accurate, but prevail to this very day.

258D
Artist: Buttoni
26 x 38 in./66 x 96.5 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

In a pseudo-surrealist bent, Buttoni places the Amalfi coast within a conch shell. The shells can be found scattered along the picturesque beaches, and for centuries, local artisans have used these natural elements to create cameo engravings and other souvenirs.

332D
Artist: Henry George Gawthorn (1879-1941)
49 3/4 x 39 1/2 in./126.5 x 100.3 cm
Est: $14,000-$17,000

“… possibly the most famous place in Scotland, and certainly for sports fans. St. Andrews is world famous for its golf: indeed, it is the home of golf, with the Royal and Ancient (Golf Club) dominating this part of the country. The ancient university City of St. Andrews lies at the extreme end of the Fife peninsula, where the North Sea washes a rocky headland flanked by sandy bays housing the most famous golf course in the world” (Furness, p. 56-57). In Gawthorn’s lush maquette, stylish male and female golfers take to the green; bathers tan on the rocky outcrops; and, in the distance, the university towers majestically. It’s difficult to say whether the beach bluffs once existed or if they were placed there by the artist, but there’s no denying that the landscape and amenities have been updated for our modern times.

382D
Artist: Viero Migliorati
24 1/2 x 39 1/4 in./62.2 x 99.7 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Santa Margherita Ligure, one of Italy’s most elegant seaside towns, is located in the very heart of the Italian Rivera—just fifteen miles from Genoa and adjacent to the splendid bay of Portofino. An oasis of natural beauty, sun, and sea, it boasts a long-standing tradition of hospitality and an origin that dates back to the 12th century. Migliorati presents the sultry locale in the company of a fivesome taking a break from the action in a cozy little nook overlooking the harbor as the town stretches itself out languorously along the strand. We tried desperately to locate the round patio outlook, to no avail—but we think Migliorati certainly did justice to this beautiful locale.

517D
Artist: Harley Wood
25 1/4 x 40 3/8 in./64.2 x 102.6 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

If you’ve never had the pleasure of going up to the Empire State Building’s observation deck, then Wood’s design is a grand substitute (though you really should go). He captures the sense of wonder at seeing New York sprawling endlessly as the evening sky gradually turns from peach to blue velvet—and the city lights below swell in response. And the couple, with their Old Hollywood charm, really seal the deal. Once again, the artist has made some adjustments to present a sensational view, but overall, Manhattan’s grid and its iconic buildings are impressively accurate.