Art Nouveau
Nearly 150 lithographs, books, and original works from this endlessly fascinating period.

A revolt from the Paris Academy of the mid-19th century, Art Nouveau delighted in the curviness of natural forms and the florid ornamentation of wild gardens. An idea of the world across all arts, Art Nouveau differentiated itself among purposes and nations and schools of thought, but with one unifying principle: a fusion of elegance and wildness. It overwhelmed the popular arts in Europe from 1890 to 1910.

148. Job. 1896.
Artist: Jane Atché (1872-1937)
40 1/4 x 54 3/4 in./102 x 139.2 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000.

Of Atché’s half dozen known posters, this one for the cigarette paper firm is her most iconic. We get the lyricism of Art Nouveau in the handling of the green dress and the smoke, combined with a compelling Lautrec-esque management of the solid black cape as it slashes through the design. This is the larger format version of the poster.

451. Guinguette Fleurie. 1901. ($78,000)
Artist: Jacques Villon (1875-1963)
35 7/8 x 50 1/2 in./91 x 128.2 cm
Est: $70,000-$90,000.

The well-known and lovely poster for an engagement by Guinguette Fleurie – dubbed at the bottom “The Flower of the Singer-Poets” – at the Manège Central, a Montmartre music-hall that was a former riding school. Villon was an important figure in the history of modern art and a quintessential figure in the bohemian scene of Fin-de-Siècle Paris. A Cubist painter, illustrator and filmmaker, he created only six posters – all graced by his superb drawing and observation of character. We fancy that the small figure of a bearded figure in the distant background of this poster is a self-caricature.

346. Eugenie Buffet / Concert La Cigale. 1894.
346. Eugenie Buffet / Concert La Cigale. 1894.
Artist: Lucien Métivet (1863-1932)
31 x 70 1/8 in./78.8 x 178 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000.

Buffet “used this design as an announcement of her appearance at the Cigale… Buffet was quite popular in the intimate cabaret, preferring to forsake glamour and elaborate stage effects in favor of singing about common people and ordinary subjects in a down-to-earth ‘realistic’ style” (Gold, p. 120)… It was an instant success: Charles Hiatt calls this design “extremely distinguished” (p. 133) and Maindron, full of praises for it, concludes that “it borders on perfection” (p. 91). This is a two-sheet poster.

324. Exposition Universelle/Palais de l’Optique. 1900.
324. Exposition Universelle/Palais de l’Optique. 1900.
Artist: Georges Leroux (1877-1957)
37 1/8 x 50 3/4 in./94.3 x 129 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000.

“By simply leaving the paper blank and highlighting the woman’s face and arms, Leroux makes the globe she holds seem luminous. The allegorical figure represents the spirit of progress, and the globe stands for the optics industry… The building housing the exhibit was surmounted by a lighted dome, one of the fair’s most spectacular sights” (Gold, p. 128).

292. Ambassadeurs/Duclerc. 1894.
292. Ambassadeurs/Duclerc. 1894.
Artist: Albert Guillaume (1873-1942)
38 x 51 in./96.6 x 129.6 cmon silk.
Est: $1,700-$2,000.

That lush and lissome cancan dancer, swinging her arm with abandon, is none other than Marguerite Duclerc, who became a headliner at the Ambassadeurs in 1892. This poster is halfway through her incredibly successful run at the venue; in 1896 she’d saved her pay enough to buy out the Café Concert des Decadents, and transform it into her own place, the Concert Duclerc.

351. Haverly's Theatre / Our Goblins. ca. 1880.
Artist: Matt Morgan (1839-1890)
13 1/2 x 39 5/8 in./34.3 x 100.6 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000.

“Haverly’s Theatre, Brooklyn. June 7. One week only. W.C. Mitchell’s Pleasure Party in ‘Our Goblins,’ or ‘Fun on the Rhine’,” reads the spectacular text for this exquisite, absolutely wonderful expression of American Victorian style. Matt Morgan, the artist, was born in London and illustrated his way across Paris, Italy, Spain, and Algeria before creating cartoons ridiculing Queen Victoria for a British paper he owned, called The Tomahawk. This didn’t go over particularly well in England, where he was based, and the paper folded. However, Frank Leslie persuaded him across the Pond to establish Morgan as a rival of Thomas Nast. He flourished, and spent his time between New York and Cincinnati, where he became a manager of the famous Strobridge Lithography Co. He rarely signed the show posters he produced for Strobridge, so this is a real rarity – and indicative of the pride he took in this exceptionally fine example of late 19th-century lithography. Toward the end of his life, he wanted to work on a larger scale, and created – among other things – a background for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Madison Square Garden, covering 15,000 square yards of canvas. An exemplary work by an artist who, truly, became an American original.

390. Théâtre de Loïe Fuller. 1900.
Artist: Manuel Orazi (1860-1934)
24 1/4 x 79 in./61.6 x200.7 cm
Est: $14,000-$17,000.

A rare Art Nouveau masterpiece to coincide with the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Manuel Orazi’s vision of Loïe Fuller is as original as the performer herself: emerging from a hazy color field anticipating Rothko, upward into erotic form, then bubbling with Japanese family crests (!) and then upward: with hair floating as if a Mucha goddess underwater, breathing a bouquet of white roses into being. It’s one of at least three color variants. Orazi’s posters are as seldom-seen as they are magnificent: famous for his exquisite La Maison Moderne posters (see PAI-VIII, 479), Orazi also created the Calendrier Magique, an occult-themed calendar limited to an auspicious 777 copies. Rare!

304. Dover-Ostend Line. ca. 1907.
Artist: Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928)
25 x 38 5/8 in./63.2 x 98.2 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000.

The father of Italian poster art, Adolfo Hohenstein escapes from the opera house and joins these three adventurous ladies on a sunlight-streaming transit from Dover to Ostend on the turbine steamer Princesse Elisabeth, whose new engine technology overpowered the paddle steamers used up to that time.

165. Salon des Cent. 1896.
Artist: Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
17 1/2 x 24 3/4 in./44.5 x 62.8 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

The drawing of a woman admonishing her dog appears only half-finished, with the right side remaining a blank, but all the pertinent elements are there – the fashionable veiled hat, the gesture of the gloved hand, and the attentive pose of the pooch. Colta Ives, in the catalogue of the Bonnard exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, speaks of “the softly delineated forms [in the Salon des Cent], enhanced with touches of modeling and color” and feels that although he was part of the Nabis group, “his adoption of a more relaxed and lyrically sensuous approach” set him apart from that fraternity (Ives, p. 6). This charming invitation is surely one of the finest and most sensitive lithographs of Bonnard and of the entire Salon des Cent series.

284. Harper’s Magazine / Christmas. 1892.
Artist: Eugene Grasset (1841-1917)
13 3/8 x 18 1/2 in./34 x 47 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

Hark, the herald angel sings! With the popularity of the French Art Nouveau poster on the rise, Grasset soon obtained a variety of commissions in the United States. This rare image for Harper’s Christmas edition is one of his most intricate, featuring his signature redheaded muse ushering in the season. It would make for a splendid stocking-stuffer, but it really ought to be kept in its frame.

273. Lithographies Originales. 1896.
273. Lithographies Originales. 1896.
Artist: Georges De Feure (1868-1943)
17 1⁄8 x 24 1⁄2 in./45.4 x 62.2 cm
Est: $3,500-4,000.

This lithograph, a “close-up of a highly fashionable woman closely inspecting a print,” “was not a poster, but was designed as the cover for two albums of original prints published by E. Duchatel. . . “ (Iskin, p. 100). Iskin notes the ambiguity of this figure, part of the iconography of the female connoisseur of poster art, at the salon, or on the street: “[De Feure] presents the female print collector as a woman of exquisite taste, herself a decorative creation, yet also associated with artistic creation” – note the lithographic stone bearing the artist’s signature at lower right. Alain Weill calls this “the most elegant and intimate of all de Feure’s posters” (Weill/Art Nouveau, p. 119).

152. Bières de la Meuse. 1896.
152. Bières de la Meuse. 1896.
Artist: Marc Auguste Bastard (1863-1926)
37 3/8 x 59 in./95 x 150 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000.

Little is known about Marc Bastard, and this seems to be the principal representative of his artwork, but what a piece! Channeling both Botticelli and Grasset, this Venus of the Barley Fields was created a year before Mucha’s more famous poster on the subject. At the time, the brewers of the Meuse valley were facing slowing sales and consolidation, so they wished to advertise as a collective.

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