A car can massage organs which no masseur can reach. It is the one remedy for the disorders of the great sympathetic nervous system.
— Jean Cocteau
Our collection of 33 vintage automobile posters on auction October 22 includes an iconic Metlicovitz and classic British travel posters from Shell. Here’s a preview of the range:
62 1⁄4 x 45 in./158 x 144.3 cm
When seen on a road sign, “barré” means “Do Not Enter.” This could have been a problem for the Barré automotive company. Walter Thor, however, decided to drive right through this marketing barrier, and as a result produced an advertising coup. This unruly rabble in the rumble seat doesn’t give a fig for unfinished roadworks, and even thumbs their noses at the gendarme as they fly past. So many auto ads of the period emphasize elegance and luxury; this is truly a car for the people: one that states unequivocally to those who seek to bar access, or progress, or entry, that they can go stuff it.
35 1⁄2 x 51 in./90 x 129.5 cm
A breathtaking deconstruction of a 1930s Bugatti in mid-pounce. No auto marque in the world has had such a consistent run producing vehicles of such staggering beauty, elegance, and sculptural form – and without a doubt Bugatti’s finest designs appeared between 1927 and 1938. Gerold’s interpretation here is a masterpiece of commercial art, concentrating on the car as a multitude of wavelike curves rushing headlong upon you.
44 5⁄8 x 60 3⁄4 in./113.3 x 154.2 cm
An ingenious advertisement for automobile headlamps from Charles Delavat: a communication with the soul of a poet, the mind of an engineer… and the angst of the advertising copywriter. Our scientist, at lower right, appears to be racking his brains over a three-part problem: how to extract sunlight from below the horizon, how to bottle that light into a portable container, and how to convert the brand name B.R.C. into “sunlight.” Meanwhile, an astronomer gazes over the parapet to a splendid street-plan of a French city, rolling out to the horizon. Rarely is an idea this clever accomplished with such beauty.
54 3/4 x 78 in./139 x 198.2 cm
A winged seraph carries laurels of triumph in the slipstream beside a hungry red speedster, which is being flung through the wind by two determined, begoggled drivers – a fitting introduction to the 1907 Milan Auto Show. It’s one of the most magnificent posters by Metlicovitz, who managed – with no formal training – to grow from successful portraitist to the technical director of the famous Ricordi Printing House, become one of Italy’s greatest poster artists in the process. This is a two-sheet poster.