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Wine, s’il vous plaît?

Wine, S’il Vous Plaît?

Knock knock—who’s there?— Nectar, your wine delivery man!

One of the first recurring characters in the history of advertising, Monsieur Nicolas, aka “Nectar Livreur”—Nectar Deliverer —was invented by the artist Dransy in 1922. His addled face and bewildered stance, with bottles pinwheeling out from his hands, lasted as a 50-year-long campaign—in part, because Nicolas Wines acquired the world’s best commercial artists to push the idea forward.

After Dransy continued the evolution with two more supporting characters—Nectar’s son Glou-Glou and his wife Felicité—numerous other poster artists extended the legacy of this quirky wine delivery man. Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite interpretations of the character including some by Charles Loupot and Alfred Latour, as well as the original designs by Dransy.

Depot Nicolas / Fines Bouteilles. 1922.
By Jules Isnard Dransy (1883-1945)
87 5/8 x 120 in./222.5 x 304.7 cm

Nicolas was, and is, one of the major wine dealers/distributors in France. In 1922, the head of the family firm, Etienne Nicolas, asked Dransy to design a poster to show that the company delivers directly to your home. The delivery man, given the name Nectar, became one of the most popular, instantly-recognizable images on the walls of France throughout his many incarnations. The image was the inspiration for later posters by Iribe, Loupot and Cassandre, among others. This, however, appears to be Dransy’s original 1922 image of Nectar the livreur, supplied by the Poyet Frères agency.

Nicolas. 1927.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
89 x 120 in./226 x 305 cm

In one of Loupot’s first designs for the firm, he spruces up Nectar for Nicolas’ list of grand vins. Fittingly, he exchanged Nectar’s overalls for tails, and his fistfuls of bottles for the more refined delivery of a sommelier. Dransy created Nectar, but Loupot really launched his career.

Nicolas / Nectar et Glou-Glou. 1930.
By Jules Isnard Dransy (1883-1945)
54 1/2 x 86 3/8 in./138 x 219.2 cm

Here, the delivery man, Nectar, is joined by his latest companion, Glou-Glou, who appeared in at least five posters in the campaign. This two-sheet version is d’après Dransy (from a drawing by the artist).

Nicolas / Une Grande Années. 1930.
By Jules Isnard Dransy (1883-1945)
55 x 85 in./139.7 x 216 cm

After appearing on walls for many years, Nectar “met” Félicité, his eventual wife. While they were considered to be the parents of Glou-Glou, she would not prove to be as popular a character, and thereby appears in very few posters. This is one of the rarest images in the series, from the year the couple “wed.”

Nicolas. ca. 1930.
By Georges Lepape (1887-1971)
24 5/8 x 39 3/4 in./82.5 x 100.8 cm

Not only was Nectar drawn by artists, but numerous sculptures of the character were created. Here, Lepape gives us a color rendering of what would become an iconic enamel sign and wire sculpture for the Nicolas brand.

Nicolas. 1933.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
50 3/8 x 79 1/2 in./131 x 202 cm
Est: $50,000-$60,000

In 1927, Loupot was asked to continue the tradition of this iconic advertising image and opted for a more modern Art Deco twist. Although Loupot first gave Nectar formal attire, here he goes back to the more proletariat vision of the delivery man—paying homage to Nectar’s original creator, Dransy. Loupot pushed the Nectar Livreur figure from Art Nouveau whimsy to High Modernist abstraction and silent-movie expressionism. Here, the character is in his Cubist phase, the pinwheel of bottles now two efficient and symmetrical fans. This is the only known copy of the complete poster with letters. Extremely rare!

Nicolas / Fines Bouteilles. ca. 1940
By Alfred Latour (1888-1954)
78 1/4 x 58 3/4 in./199 x 149.2 cm

Nicolas continued to be one of the major wine dealers and distributors in France. Here, we see the Nicolas company’s iconic mascot nearly 20 years after it was first created by Dransy. He is peeking out from the corner in a mod-inspired two-sheet design with his many bottles ready for home wine delivery.

Nicolas : Maquette. 1948.
By A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
31 1/2 x 23 1/2 in./80 x 60 cm

This reduced painting, with gouache and ink on paper, was redrawn in 1948 for an exhibition of French Poster Art that opened at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was to have toured Europe and the United States. France’s leading posterists (in addition to Cassandre, there was Paul Colin, Charles Loupot, Sépo, de Valério, Fix-Masseau, Raymond Gid, Charles Kiffer, Herve Morvan, Nathan, René Savo, Savignac and Villemot among others) were asked to paint two of their favorite posters for this show. Cassandre’s other choice: L’Intransigeant of 1925. These redrawn maquettes were to measure 80 x 60 cm in order to facilitate the shipment of these paintings in uniform crates. As a result, the public saw the poster images in reduced format in almost all cases; this poster originally measured 126 x 94 1/2 in./320 x 240 cm. The shadowy figure in one of Cassandre’s most spectacular images, identified only by an “N” on his cap, holding clusters of stylized bottles in both hands, is Nectar. The centerpiece is virtually inundated in gaily-patterned stripes interweaving in a wild profusion of colors, all blazing and wild. But there is a method to it, for it is the abrupt changes in the direction of the weaving, circular yellow-orange-red stripes that give this poster a pulsating motion to compliment and focus us on the spinning bottles.

Nicolas. 1954.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
Each 11 x 15 1/8 in./28 x 38.5 cm

These are two more experimental works that Loupot produced for the wine distributor; here, he focuses on typographic abstraction and uses more modern, graphic shapes.

Nicolas Sculpture. 1998.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1862)
29 1/4 in./74.3 cm

This beautiful sculpture represents the first minting of a Loupot design for the wine distributor, Nicolas, which had not previously been produced. This production has been authorized and supervised by the artist’s son, Jean-Marie Loupot, who provides a hand-written certificate of authenticity to accompany this work. Only ten copies (plus two artist’s proofs) were created, this being #1. It’s a sleek, sensational sculpture that meticulously replicates the artist’s drawing, which itself a stylization of Dransy’s famous Nicolas wine delivery man, Nectar.

Rare Posters Auction LXXVIII is Sunday, June 23 at 11am EDT

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