Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood… Make big plans; aim high in hope and work… Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.
– Daniel Burnham, designer of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago, and New York City’s Flatiron Building
37 x 51 1/8 in./94 x 129.8 cm
The Ferris Wheel was invented for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but seven years later, La Grande Roue would burst grandly upon Paris’s skyline as the tallest Wheel in the world, rivaling the Eiffel Tower for eyeballs and craned necks as the 1900 World’s Fair commenced. Each of the 40 carriages could hold 40 people at a time, ferrying 1,600 people aloft at once.
Eventually, in 1920, it was dismantled – and its pods used, variously, for rag-and-bone shops, and for shelters for WWI veterans and refugees. In time, these rag-and-bone shops evolved into antique stores. Today, the entire neighborhood where La Grande Roue once spun is called the Swiss Village; the antique trade is concentrated there still today, nearly 100 years later.
This is the larger format of the poster.
10 x 13 1/8 in./25.5 x 33.2 cm
All the cats of Paris’s rooftops heed the call: a great towering Cat God ascends in the light of the full Moon. A breathtaking, inspired, and mystically weird gatefold from Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) in this wonderful book of “cats and other beasts.” Steinlen rose to fame as one of France’s greatest poster artists on the basis of his immortal “Chat Noir” and “Lait pur Stérilisé”; his book collects dozens of illustrations of cats in all manner of gambol and play. This copy was previously owned by the publisher, Eugéne Rey.
A separate Lot (447) is an unbound portfolio of cat sketches by Steinlen as a companion piece to the book (est: $4,000-$5,000).
24 1/8 x 38 7/8 in./61.2 x 98.8 cm
At work at Ogilvy’s “Chocolate Factory” building on 11th Avenue, I’d see a picture like this most nights upon the Hudson, three blocks away. It’s an incredible sight: a gargantuan cruise ship, vying for skyline supremacy with the towers framing it, pulling out of the pier and slowwwwwwwly making its way downriver toward New York Harbor. You’d count: three, four, five blocks long – it seemed impossible – longer than the skyscrapers were tall. Shoesmith captures the awe, the impossibility, and the optical illusion of that moment: with smoke from tugboats rising alongside the four stacks of the HMS Aquitania for good measure. A lot has changed between the 1920s and now; this, for the most part, hasn’t.
24 3/4 x 40 1/2 in./62.8 x 102.8 cm
A remarkable artifact of a future not taken. Continental Airlines had placed orders for three Concordes in 1963; and, as this poster speculated, they would debut for the airline in 1971. The dream of universal supersonic flight, over Mach 2 and just 3 1/2 hours New York-Paris, was real – and in this poster, you can see Continental’s Concordes congregating around LAX’s Theme Building, symbolizing the radical designs of the American future. (Gin Wong, architect of the Theme Building, has sadly just passed away.) But it was not to be, for the Continental Concorde. As 1971 arrived, Continental Airlines’ CEO voiced concerns about Concorde’s profitability. The orders were canceled in 1973, making this poster a beautiful illustration of ’60s science fiction.
24 3/8 x 39 1/8 in./62 x 99.3 cm
When it opened in 1937, Denmark’s Storstrøm Bridge was the longest bridge in Europe, a combined effort of Danish planning, British engineering and British steel (as this Pathé newsreel proclaims). Spanning the Storstrømmen, or “great stream,” between Falster and Masnedø islands, it became a significant transportation link in connecting the furthest parts of the European continent. One of Rasmussen’s best-known designs, this advertisement (with rare text for a French audience) sought to inspire travel to Denmark, using the awe-inspiring infrastructure as a signifier of a future-thinking nation.
This Storstrøm Bridge will soon be a memory; a new bridge has been approved, with completion slated for 2022.
10 1/8 x 10 3/4 in./25.6 x 27.3 cm
Mark Twain said, “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses – and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” George Bernard Shaw got closer when he noted “the childishly egotistical character of her acting: the art of making you admire her, pity her, champion her, weep with her… It is the art of finding out all your weaknesses and practicing on them.”
This portrait of Bernhardt, by William Nicholson, is a woodblock print; the same design was used for a similar repertoire of performances at the Grand Theatre de Genéve. Bernhardt’s signature at bottom is a printed element. Nicholson was one half of the famed Beggarstaff Brothers graphic design team – and this regal depiction of Bernhardt fully captures the poet Theodore de Banville’s impression of the artist:
“Even when [Bernhardt] is immobile and silent, one feels that her movement, like her voice, obeys a lyrical rhythm. A Greek statue, wishing to symbolize Poetry, would choose her for a model.”
46 7/8 x 62 7/8 in./119.2 x 159.7 cm
Two thousand, one hundred and seventy-five miles: that’s the distance between St. Petersburg and Sebastopol, along incorrigible roads in the appalling cold. In 1911, La Buire autos threw two standard 4-cylinder production cars at this beast of a race and beat 63 competitors without a single penalty. La Buire operated between 1905 and 1930 from the Lyonnais district of the same name. Montaut’s rare design has undeniable presence: a vision of austere boldness, and an unmistakable message: what’s best through Siberia, will handle French country lanes just fine.
78 1/2 x 76 in./199.5 x 193 cm
“Is this real?”
That’s the first question we receive on this magnificent work. The answer is yes – it was. The Sutro Baths, founded in 1896, were situated on Point Lobos, San Francisco, not far from the Cliff House. The brainchild of the German immigrant and self-made millionaire Adolphe Sutro, the Rococo palace housed seven swimming pools (one freshwater, six saltwater), plus 517 changing rooms, and could accommodate an unfathomable 7,400 bathers. This rare six-sheet billboard provides a panoramic view of the interior, with exquisite detail. The Sutro Baths survived until 1966, when the structure was destroyed by a fire and abandoned. However its ruins can still be seen, and it has a historical marker on GoogleMaps, identified by this very poster. This work has aroused an extraordinary amount of interest, so do not hesitate on the diving board. This Lot comes with a small, text-only, famed announcement of the Baths’ 1897 spring opening (5 1/4 x 10 1/4 in,.13.3 x 26 cm).
19 1/2 x 35 1/2 in./49.6 x 90.2 cm
Yes, that is the light at the end of the tunnel. One of Metlicovitz’s most celebrated designs, this poster celebrates the 1906 inauguration of the Simplon Tunnel: bored through 65,000 feet of mountain to connect Zurich and Milan by rail, underneath and through the forbidding Alps rather than, as it was for all of prior human history, over them. Completed in 1906, it held the world record for longest tunnel until 1982 (!). As a symbol of a Great Task Accomplished, or of an Ordeal Survived, it has few equals.
54 5/8 x 79 in./138.3 x 207 cm
La Tribuna, personified, bends over the shadowed Earth, about to inscribe upon the new day with a quill. From her tapestried dress, we gaze upward to her feather-winged headdress – as if Mercury’s winged sandals had become Shakespeare’s “wings of imagination and speed of thought.” A superb work of art, right down to the typography, features imagery and chiaroscuro familiar to fans of Metlicovitz and Dudovich. But Mataloni preceded both of those colleagues at Ricordi, where he arrived in 1890. Mataloni’s famous Brevetto Auer poster brought Art Nouveau to Italy in 1895; this magnificent piece returns us to the Italian Renaissance. This is the larger format of the poster, but without the bottom text sheet.
27 5/8 x 34 1/4 in./70 x 87 cm
Those fair gentlemen eyeing you mildly, but perceptively, are idealized portraits of Rembrandt and Raphael. The Dutch posterist Hubert M. Luns, who was establishing himself as a revivalist of medieval and Dutch Golden Age techniques, first created the core of this image to promote a 1923 exhibition of Raphael’s works at the Rijksmuseum. He then repurposed the image here, to promote travel to Italy with G. Buskenhuet, a Dutch travel agent. Text around the top frame, in Latin, and below, in Dutch, appears to be a conversational debate about the stature of each artist within their respective artistic traditions.
38 1/2 x 54 3/4 in./97.7 x 139.2 cm
A virtual “Who’s Who” of the Parisian avant-garde – Cocteau, Delaunay, Gris, Léger, Man Ray, Picasso, Picabia, Stravinsky, and Tzara – are guests at the swinging 1922 Fête de Nuit at the Bullier Dancehall (identified in right-hand text). Even the Polish painter Moïse Kisling is singled out as the head bartender for the evening. One of the more explosive and wild costume balls of Bohemian Paris, attractions (listed in alphabetical order on left) included clowns, dancing, gymnasts, Hindus, fools, jazz, lemonade, miracles, paradise, swimming, tournaments, whisky, and Zanzibar. Overall, this was one of the more historic parties, encompassing the unmatched artistic culture of Montmartre during that magical time.
Each: 29 5/8 x 41 1/4 in./75 x 104.7 cm
Est: $6,000-$7,000 (3)
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni
These three posters for PLM Railway by Dorival are epic in their Modernist simplicity, almost anticipating Warhol in their colored iterations. It’s very rare to have the full triptych – noon, sunset, and night – together as a unified set.