Masterpieces
Our finest works on auction, from Art Nouveau to Mid-Century Modern.
1. Cycles Gladiator. Ca. 1895.
51 7/8 x 38 1/8 in./131.7 x 96.8 cm
Est: $30-35,000.

Acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest posters, this image of a flame-tressed nude, propelled among the stars by the Gladiator and its winged pedals, has been appropriated throughout culture ever since its debut in 1895. Shockingly, it remains anonymous, despite the presence of faint initials L.W. in the lower right corner.

277. Palais de Glace. 1900.
33 x 97 1/2 in./89 x 247.5 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000.

We have four different versions of Chéret’s Palais de Glace in this auction. This one is the tallest, and the finest. The effervescence of this design, and its quick dashes of coloration, make it clear that Chéret wanted to create something special for the Turn of the Century.

292. La Machine a Calculer : Maquette. 1925.
Artist: Paul Colin (1882-1986)
19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in./50 x 70 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000.

Paul Colin helped Josephine Baker rise to stardom and was deeply engaged with the black jazz scene of 1920’s Paris. So this is especially unusual for him: a gouache and ink maquette on behalf of the French production of Elmer Rice’s 1923 play “The Adding Machine.” An extremely rare example of Colin stripping away all conventions of commercial art, to arrive at a pure Modernist interpretation of a mind deep in calculation. The play was revived for the autumn 2017 season at Dallas’s Theater Three.

479. Jane Avril. 1899.
Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
14 5/8 x 21 7/88 in./37.3 x 55.6 cm
Est: $100,000-$120,000.

“It is very fitting … that one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s finest posters should be the last one he made for Jane Avril. It is dated in February of 1899, and in March he entered a clinic for the first time. This fascinating work is a true child of the Art Nouveau age . . . It shows the constant flirtation with the macabre that is part of Art Nouveau. Snakes were portrayed a great deal in the jewelry of the period,” Jane Abdy wrote: they were symbols of fidelity. Here, however, there’s a hint that Avril is portrayed as “a girl stifled by the art of her time.” This is the rarest of the versions, hand-signed by the artist and including a small snake remarque in the lower left.

359. Phillippossian Automobiles. 1920.
Artist: Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
50 3/4 x 35 3/8 in./128.8 x 90 cm
Est: $80-90,000.

Exceptionally rare, this poster finds Loupot at the apex of his transition period between Switzerland and France, between domestic traditionalism and aggressive Modernist experimentation. This poster appears to be the sole remnant of any flirtation the advertiser Charles Philippossian had with the auto industry. However, it’s clear that the brilliance of this piece served as Loupot’s introduction to an entirely new market, as a creator of the new Art Deco aesthetic. An important, and rarely seen, poster by this artist.

In our catalogue, discover eight more landmark works by Loupot.
485. 2me AAAA Bal/Bullier.
Artist: Marie Vassilieff (1884-1957)
31 x 45 1/2 in./78.8 x 116 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000.

At the center of this poster, a conductor – yes, that’s him with the baton – raises his hands, signaling that the symphony is about to commence: the 2nd-ever AAAA Ball (Aide Amicale Aux Artistes, or “friendly help to artists”). Numerous benefits, balls and benefits for artists were held in Paris around this time: an overture, like this one, to Russian artist emigrées from the Bolshevik Revolution. The artist, Marie Vassilieff, preceded them, arriving in Montparnasse in 1907, opening her own atelier in 1912, and collecting works by Chagall, Modigliani, Picasso and Léger. She was a nurse for the French Red Cross during World War I, and painted the ornamental panels for the pillars in the dining room of La Coupole. She exhibited puppet portraits in London in 1920 and in Paris in 1923; these were obviously inspiration for this 1924 poster.

54. Le Raid au Cap / FN. 1928.
Artist: Auguste Mambour (1896-1968)
30 3/4 x 46 5/8 in./78.2 x 118.5 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000.

One of the finest, boldest, most artistic, most avant-garde posters of the period: for the emerging sport of auto rallies across Africa. The 1928 Raid du Cap, or ‘Trek to Cape Town,’ was the second in a series of three long-distance endurance races intended to demonstrate the feasibility of establishing an airmail route between Belgium and the Belgian Congo.

141. Théâtre de Loïe Fuller. 1900.
25 7/8 x 79 1/8 in./65.6 x 201 cm
Est: $20-$25,000.

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. 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.

287. Nice / Soleil, Fleurs. 1962.
Artist: Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
23 1/2 x 39 1/4 in./59.7 x 99.7 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500.

Hand-signed by the artist. Far above the Corniche, in the midst of a midnight blue, a mermaid hovers, clasping and breathing a bouquet of flowers: this is Marc Chagall’s dream of Nice, the city of flowers on the Côte d’Azur.

323. Duncan Yoyo. 1930.
Artist: Raymond Gid (1905-2000)
23 ½ x 31 1/4 in./60 x 79.5cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000.

The name Duncan is synonymous with yo-yos the world over; this poster helped make it so. The artist of this Deco lunacy, Raymond Gid, trained as an architect before becoming a graphic journeyman. He created corporate logos, typography and posters for a number of major clients – including Dresch motorcycles (see PAI-LXXIV, 115) and the poster for Hitchcock’s “The Birds.

343. Café Odeon und Billard Akademie. 1908.
Artist: Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949)
33 1/4 x 45 1/4 in./84.5 x 115 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

A billiards player receives a drink from a waiter in this Hohlwein classic. Note the use of the vertical and horizontal lines: the cue stick and the piping on the waiter’s trousers are exactly parallel, and so is the tray and the baize surface of the pool table. This particular poster, on the back, contains a note on poster collecting from the original purchaser, one A. Bodmer, student of architecture in Munich, on May 29, 1909.

316. Burger-Kehl & Co. / PKZ. 1917.
Artist: Leonhard F. W. Fries (1881-1965)
35 5/8 x 49 3/4 in./90.5 x 126.5 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000.

A delightful, dapper vision of springtime fashion, this is one of the more effective ads for PKZ, the same level as those by Engelhard and Hohlwein.

309. Paris-1924 / Jeux Olympiques. 1924.
Artist: Jean Droit (1884-1961)
31 3/8 x 47 1/4 in./79.7 x 120 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000.

This is the banner under which Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 400m and 100m events, immortalized in the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire.” It’s the poster that symbolized Johnny Weissmuller’s swimming. And it’s the Olympics that first used the motto Citius, Altius Fortius (Higher, Faster, Stronger). “The espousal of mass physical culture became a source of national pride and strength, as perfectly exemplified in Jean Droit’s image” (Olympic Posters, p. 35). This was one of two posters selected out of 150 entries; it’s become one of the world’s most cherished items of Olympic memorabilia. NOTE: See also the posters of Van der Ven for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, and that of Villa for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

348. Underground / Power. 1931.
Artist: E. McKnight Kauffer (1890-1934)
25 x 39 3/4 in./63.4 x 101 cm
Est: $35-40,000.

“The graphic work of E. McKnight Kauffer revolutionized the face of the London Underground. Between 1915 and 1935 he not only created a total of 141 posters for the company but also revitalized portions of the subway stations throughout the city with murals and other examples of public art. This remains one of his most ambitious and rare compositions, fusing images of man and machine to best express the raw energy behind London’s electrified train service” (Crouse/Deco, p. 266)

401. General Dynamics / Hydrodynamics. 1955.
Artist: Erik Nitsche (1908-1998)
35 1/2 x 49 7/8 in./90.2 x 126.8 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000.

In 1955, flush with both the promise and the terror of a nuclear world, General Dynamics began one of the great ad campaigns of modern times: “Atoms for Peace.” The company commissioned Erik Nitsche for a series of posters exploring the theme. This one was the most famous. “It was an indelible logo in its day… the shell was a virtual cornucopia of progress” (Heller / Nitsche). The text is in French, in homage to Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, from which the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) is named. The sub is now a National Historic Landmark permanently berthed as a museum in Groton, Connecticut.

376. La Dame Aux Camélias. 1896.
Artist: Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
28 3/8 x 80 in./72 x 230.2 cm
Est: $14-$17,000.

Alexander Dumas, fils, wrote a semi-autobiographical novel based upon his love affair with a courtesan. She would wear a white camelia in her hair when available for love; a red camelia when indisposed. Verdi adapted it for the opera under the name “La Traviata”; Dumas himself adapted it for the stage, and it became a tour de force for Sarah Bernhardt. Note the stars, created in metallic silver paint, which shine and twinkle in the light.

458. Countess Shrivanskaya's Crime. 1926.
Stenberg Bros. (Vladimir, 1899-1982; Georgi, 1900-1933)
28 x 39 in./71 x 99 cm
Est: $6,000-$7,000.

The Stenberg Brothers helped found the genre of art known as Soviet Constructivism and created some of the world’s most prized posters in that aesthetic. This is for a film by Ivan Perestiani, the first director to make films in the Republic of Georgia using local actors and technicians. One of his early films, ‘Little Red Devils’ (1923) was such a success that Perestiani made three sequels: ‘Savur’s Grave,’ ‘Illan-Dilli’ and this film, all released in the same year.

Live auction begins June 26, 2018 at 2 p.m. EDT
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