No matter your preferred mode of transit, these posters will guarantee an enjoyable ride.
For posters celebrating two-wheeled transit, see our dedicated Bicycles section.
38 1/4 x 54 1/4 in./97 x 137.8 cm
Just imagine: it’s midsummer in 1910, and nothing is sexier than watching those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines from the top of the Église Saint-Pierre in Caen. Over 60,000 spectators a day took in the spectacle (though few, supposedly, from this vantage point), which included “competitive events between ‘civilians’ and ‘servicemen'” (Affiches d’Aviation, p. 57) in hot-air balloons and rudimentary flyers in the infancy of the aviators’ age.
25 1/4 x 40 in./64 x 101.6 cm
The Scylla airliner certainly appears to be grandiose from this perspective—its 113 feet wingspan dominates the scene. This “most luxurious plane in the world” was developed by the Short Brothers for Imperial Airways in 1934, and boasted an onboard restaurant, 40 travel destinations, and 4 motors. Here, Brenet captures the buzz with passengers and crew workers flooding the tarmac below the plane’s departure to the next destination.
21 1/4 x 29 1/2 in./54 x 75 cm
“Poets don’t draw,” Jean Cocteau once said. “They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.” This concept is whimsically illustrated in this Air France poster by the French artist, poet, novelist, and filmmaker. The skewed perspective and cubic abstraction are reminiscent of his colleague Picasso, while the hand-drawn lettering and transformative puffs of smoke are delightful examples of Cocteau’s capriciousness.
24 5/8 x 39 3/8 in./62.7 x 100 cm
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, would be difficult to see from the harbor at this angle. Nevertheless, the geometric composition, specked with coral red and dreamy sea blue, is a powerful depiction of the monumental change about to shake Marseille.
14 x 18 1/4 in./35.6 x 46.2 cm
This maquette is the image of Art Deco elegance: the streamlined stained glass panels, the women’s fur coats and Hollywood frocks, and of course, the cherry red Lincoln that reflects the evening light—all signs that this American luxury car is perfect for the French bourgeoisie. In fact, the Saint-Didier model was advertised as “la voiture de vrai luxe.”
29 x 41 1/4 in./104.7 x 73 cm
In this magnificent poster, Cassandre perfectly portrays the two most important factors in early rail travel: romance and speed. Our eyes are both focused on the geometric whirl of the wheels and the seemingly endless far-off horizon. The size and power of the engine is so brilliantly executed that one can almost feel that solid wall of hot air hitting you as it races by.
24 3/8 x 39 1/2 in./62 x 100.3 cm
The Blue Bird was one of the most famous Trans-European Express trains of its time. Released in 1929, this deluxe passenger locomotive traveled between Paris and Antwerp, stopping in Brussels along the way. As can be gleaned from this poster, speed was of the utmost importance—a burst of steam evidences the train’s roaring departure from the station.
Each 29 3/4 x 41 1/4 in./75.5 x 104.7 cm
Est: $6,000-$7,000 (3)
“Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky, / Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene; / Its subject mountains their unearthly forms / Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between” – Percy Bysshe Shelley. These three posters for PLM Railway by Dorival are epic in their Modernist simplicity, almost anticipating Warhol in their colored iterations. “In the calm darkness of moonless nights, / In the lone glare of day, the snows descend / Upon that Mountain!” It’s very rare to have the full triptych—noon, sunset, and night—together as a unified set.
24 3/4 x 39 7/8 in./63 x 101.3 cm
“It’s surprising what you see if you travel,” murmurs Meldrum’s magnificent poster for the London Underground, and its curves, wiggles, and ripples define this as one of the most beautiful and inspired Tube posters from the ’30s. The “Green Line” is now known as the District Line, and its transit takes you the entire length of the Thames—through Greater London, from Richmond and Ealing in the west, to Havering in the east. As Meldrum shows us, the train itself is not green, but the land it traverses is vibrantly verdant and full of amusement for galloping horses, dancing geese, playful dogs, lazy fishers, industrious lawnmowers, and reclining couples alike.
25 x 39 7/8 in./63.5 x 101.4 cm
A student of Fred Taylor and a sailor by training, Shoesmith was a brilliantly talented English painter, posterist, and decorative artist who died before he was 50. The Royal Mail, a British steamship company serving far-flung locations not on the routes of the major carriers, enlisted his talents for several designs. He accomplished a handful in this stylized sunset aesthetic; this copy in particular is stunning for the brightness of the colors, from the indigo sea to to blood-orange sky, and all the colors reflected in the portholes.
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