One of the most unusual artists to leave a meteoric trail in poster lore was Pal. Born in Romania as a genuine prince, with a pedigree going back to Byzantine emperors, he served for a time in the Army, but at some point in the 1880s he suddenly turned up in London as a posterist. In 1893, he moved to Paris, and for the next seven years produced the cream of his crop—poster after poster (and some paintings, too) featuring wonderfully endowed, extremely sensuous young eyeful, realistic in execution but fantastic in conception. He escapes being kitschy by the sheer grandeur of his flight of fancy. Pal’s last abrupt change of course took place in 1900 when he moved to the U.S.—for good, as it turned out. Here, he worked in a far more conservative vein, mostly for magazines and the auto and film industries.
In a typically risqué fashion for Pal, this busty beauty doesn’t shy away from flaunting her assets in the print shop. She is making the ink for printing color stone lithographs in promotion of Schneider’s printing products and the Society of Inks.
A Life of Pleasure was the last play to be written and produced by Henry Pettitt. It debuted in September, 1893 and was transferred from Drury Lane to Princess’s, which offered more room, and ran through February, 1894. The story tells of “a woman who succumbs to the lure of evil sensuality and falls victim to the machinations of a heartless upper-class, pleasure-loving seducer” (Fantasies of Empire, p. 199). One would not know from Pal’s design that this striking lady becomes a fallen woman, but we appreciate Pal’s decision to show her triumphant and independent.
Since the cream, powder, and soap are supposedly “oriental,” Pal obligingly depicts an exotic odalisque in an oddly cut dress. Feminine allure being his stock in trade, Pal is in his element, lavishing careful attention to every detail of the lady’s charms. This printing includes a stamp from Librairie Sagot.
Suprême Cusenier liqueur is specially marketed in a mysterious “bouteille inviolable,” a feature obviously intended to lend value and mystery to the product. Pal’s design enhances the image of voluptuous and magical–oriental splendor as uncommon, cabalistic and, without question, intoxicating. This printing includes a tax stamp dated 1901. Rare!
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In-gallery viewing October 11 to 26 (daily 11am-6pm)