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Horizons of the World: Travel Posters

Horizons Of The World: Travel Posters

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


See our online catalogue for over 100 vintage travel posters in our February 25 auction – including Art Deco triumphs and rarities from the 1900s to the 1960s!

92. Fly TWA Jets / Paris. 1962.
Artist: David Klein
24 7/8 x 40 1/4 in./63.2 x 102.4 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

One of David Klein’s most celebrated posters. In this exultation of the City of Light, Klein’s stylized fireworks mimic the illustrated showgirls of the Folies-Bèrgere in posters of the period.

96. Air Afrique. 1960.
Artist: Jean Dessirier
25 1/2 x 39 1/8 in./64.6 x 99.4 cm
Est: $800-$1,000.

A depiction of the incredible stilt village of Ganvie, situated in Lake Nokoué in southern Benin, built as a refuge from slavery in the 16th century. The Dahomey Kingdom ruled this part of West Africa from the 16th to the 19th century. Dessirier created many African travel posters during the 1960s; in the 1980s, he turned to sculpture.

287. L'Hiver à Monte-Carlo. 1937.
Artist: Jean-Gabriel Domergue
29 7/8 x 46 1/8 in./75.7 x 117.3 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000.

The Gatsby is strong in Domergue’s life and work. A resident of Monte-Carlo, swanning about with the glitterati was both his artistic subject and his life’s object. It was a rather ideal business model: illustrate the world’s most beautiful women on the Riviera, design fashion accessories for them, and organize elegant balls in which to show them all off. He became a local celebrity in the process. This is one of Domergue’s finest designs, a perfect balance of colors and forms as the flashbulb-Hollywood couple is caught by the paparazzi. This is the rare larger format!

489. Pullman / Vacation Lands Are Calling. 1936.
Artist: William P. Welsh
20 3/4 x 27 3/8 in./52.8 x 69.4 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000.

One of 5 posters by William P. Welsh for the famous Pullman Company featured in this auction. Pullman built elegant sleeper cars for American railroads and put virtually the entire nation just a night’s rest away from travelers’ destinations. The company’s VP, James Kelly, had long been fascinated by European travel posters, and commissioned Chicago artist William P. Welsh for a dozen poster designs, intending to promote Pullman’s safety record and comfort. “Welsh had studied at the Academie Julien in Paris and had made a name for himself painting the mural decorations of the Chicago Room of that city’s famed Palmer House… As Pullman operated only a handful of streamlined cars, Welsh chose instead to feature its patrons: stylish women whom he posed in serene outdoor settings. He bathed his subjects in brilliant color and rendered their surroundings in Art-Deco designed patterns… Welsh’s campaign won widespread public recognition and several design awards” (Travel by Train, p. 109). They remain some of the most brilliant evocations of 1930s Art Deco created in America.   

472. Holland Amerika Linie. 1928.
Artist: Adriaan Van't Hoff
32 x 43 5/8 in./81.3 x 110.7 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000.

This poster was used to advertise the first trans-Atlantic crossing of the latest Statendam (there were two previous liners of that name), which became the flagship of the Holland America Line in April 1929. The design uses chains, derricks, and a linear perspective to create an image of power and stateliness. This is the German-language version.

329. Algerie. 1924.
Artist: Roger Irriera
30 3/8 x 41 7/8 in./77 x 106.3 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

A Berber mother and child rest by a camel in this evocative poster persuading French tourists to visit Algeria in the winter.

176. Visitez La Tunisie. ca. 1955.
Artist: Anonymous
24 x 38 in./61 x 96.6 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

A stunning photograph from a Tunisian beach delivers a time capsule from the 1950s, in which a bikini sunbather shares the sand with women in traditional Muslim dress. Tunisia declared independence from France in 1956, but for the remainder of the decade, the leadership of Prime Minister Habib Bourguiba sustained a vision of Tunisia as secular, populist and imbued with French rationalism and élan. Note: credit for the “plage de Tunisie” photo is given to Photo Studio Africa.

418. Oostende. 1938.
Artist: Rogio (Roger Berckmans)
23 3/4 x 38 5/8 in./60.4 x 98.2 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000.

A bright and triumphant Deco depiction of Oostende, a Flemish-Belgian coastal city famous for its seaside promenade. Just after this poster was created, Oostende would be occupied by the Germans for the second time in 20 years. The large, ornate building in the background is Oostende’s casino, which was dynamited by the Germans during the Occupation.

189. San Salvatore. 1940.
Artist: Franco Barberis
27 3/4 x 39 1/4 in./70.4 x 99.6 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200.

San Salvatore, known as the Sugarloaf Mountain of Switzerland, became a pilgrimage destination as early as 1200. Ostensibly, this poster is advertising the new funicular, which would make a pilgrim’s progress much less arduous. However, this beautiful vision of escape and salvation has a double meaning. We’re viewing the mountain from the Italian side of Lake Lugano. In Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms, the protagonists escape from the World War raging in Italy, by rowing across Lake Lugano to Switzerland in the middle of the night. The poster, printed in 1940, seems to be urging a similar flight for refugees of Italian Fascism. The brochure, perched self-consciously on the ledge, hints at the cover story one should tell the police.

336. Carthusia Profumi/Capri. 1952.
Artist: Mario Laboccetta
26 7/8 x 38 3/8 in./68.2 x 97.5 cm
Est: $800-$1,000.

Not, strictly, a travel poster –– but we can’t resist featuring this sublime hallucination for Carthusia Perfumes, based on the enchanted Isle of Capri, a rocky outcrop off the Amalfi Coast, where the Roman Emperor Augustus vacationed in ancient days. This voluptuously floral sprite was designed to recall the legendary history of the perfumer: to celebrate the surprise arrival of Joan II, Queen of Naples, the father prior of Capri’s Carthusian Monastery created an arrangement of the most beautiful flowers on the island. When the flowers were thrown out three days later, the water in which they’d been resting had acquired a fragrance of the most exotic and tempting kind. Half a millennium later, in 1948, a prior of the same monastery rediscovered the medieval formulas. Gaining permission from the Pope, he revealed them to a chemist in Torino – and Carthusia Perfumes was born. To this day, this design by Mario Laboccetta continues to appear on Carthusia’s Via Camarelle perfume.

248. Chemin de Fer du Nord. 1929.
Artist: A. M. Cassandre
24 3/4 x 39 1/4 in./62.7 x 99.7 cm
Est: $6,000-$8,000.

Seldom seen, this Cassandre should be considered a masterpiece of Modern design. Advertising the French Northern Railway from Paris to the English Channel, it’s an exemplification of its own expression: meaning is conferred here swiftly, and with great elegance. The compass points, conflating with the speed lines of the train, the oblique angle of true North, the convergence point of the rails, all create dramatic, unusual geometries for a perfect symphonic whole. Note that the southeast compass point directs a beam of light directly onto the word “confort”: a trick that Cassandre would deploy, three years later, for his world-famous Pathé (illuminating “electrique,” 1932, PAI-LXXI, 279). This is the smaller format of the poster. 

213. Locarno. 1944.
Artist: Daniele Buzzi
25 3/8 x 39 in./64.5 x 99 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200.

A remarkable travel poster beckoning one to Switzerland, produced in 1944 in the penultimate year of World War II. The vantage point, bird’s-eye above the Franciscan sanctuary and pilgrimage site of Madonna del Sasso, carries the same meaning of escape that we see in Barberis’s poster for San Salvatore (above, No. 189), but with a rectilinear composition reflecting a desire for a return to order. In the upper half, the lone white form of a sailboat appears in the infinite blue of Lake Maggiore, symbolizing the Virgin Mary’s traditional blue and white, and also the endless blue of Heaven.

184. Le Lac d’Annecy / Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée. 1900.
Artist: F. Hugo d'Alesi
29 3/4 x 42 in./75.6 x 106.7 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200.

D’Alesi was a very particular and methodical artist, “notorious for having ruined several printers, not hesitating to ask for one or two extra color printings in order to obtain exactly the shading he wanted” (Livre de l’Affiche, p. 14). The results, however, are fantastically beautiful, overflowing with detail and atmosphere.

172. Visit the USSR in Winter. Ca. 1960.
Artist: Anonymous
23 7/8 x 38 1/4 in./60.7 x 97.2 cm
Est: $800-$1,000.

Audacity, perversity, chutzpah: call it what you will, but this incredible 1960s poster urging winter travel to the USSR is something you’re not likely to see every day.

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