Ornamental designs for Oriental rugs
Rugs have notably generated great posters because the products themselves are works of art—often spectacular ones—and the posters must do them justice. Some designers opt to focus on the simple beauty of a rug, while others evoke scenes from Arabian Nights or Persian miniatures, with languid women luxuriating in opulent rooms or harems. Notably, and for reasons we have yet to decipher, many of these works are for Swiss companies. Luckily for us, they chose to employ some of the greatest Swiss designers, including Baumberger, Cardinaux, and Mangold, who transformed Zürich rug dealers into conjurers of exotic flights of fancy.
30 1/2 x 47 1/4 in./77.3 x 120 cm
Grasset did much to introduce the concept and practice of Art Nouveau in France. In fact, Grasset “brought Art Nouveau to the aid of the poster: it was to become a worldwide vehicle of the art of advertising. In France, Grasset was the pioneer of an attempt, like that of William Morris in England, to reconcile art and industry… Interested as he was in all the applied arts, he came naturally to the poster” (Weill, p. 32). This detailed slice of exotica clearly illustrates the fact that the Place Clichy department store was the premiere importer of oriental merchandise, most notably rugs. The oft used design went through several printings and editions, beginning in 1891. This is the larger format.
31 3/4 x 44 in./80.6 x 111.8 cm
A Jugendstil goddess shakes out her decorative rug to advertise Philipp Haas & Söhne, a carpet and fabric production company founded in 1810. Further factories were founded in the mid 1800s to satisfy the growing demand for weaving patterns based on oriental styles. While initial rugs were reproduced from found designs, the company soon hired major artists to design unique works; by 1873, the company was at the forefront of Austria’s textile industry. This is the original German version; it was also printed in Czech for the firm’s Prague address. Rare!
33 x 47 3/4 in./83.8 x 121.5 cm
With their red carpet entry, Schuster and Co. simultaneously advertises the plushness of its wares and the kind of treatment you can expect when visiting their stores—not to mention the class of clientele you can expect to find as well.
33 1/4 x 50 in./84.5 x 127 cm
Baumberger pays homage to Mangold’s classic design for the Oriental carpet outlet (see PAI-LXIV, 355) with a credit line (nach B. Mangold) on verso. Though the striking pose and compositional elements are essentially the same, Baumberger switches the emphasis from rug to model by reducing the color scheme to its sepia essentials and emphasizing the musculature of the model, the vibrancy of the textiles, and the detailed folds of the fabric that covers him. Though the product being promoted is downplayed, the exotic nature of the design’s sole human element is maximized, which keeps the lush otherness of what Forster Company has to offer prominently on display.
27 1/2 x 39 1/4 in./70 x 99.5 cm
For an “exhibition” of rugs at the Sandreuter & Lang dealership, Mangold gives us a merchant showing a family a small rug—but the real star here is the larger, rich red and blue carpet on the floor. Its motif of octagons also frames the drawing and the text below, which again repeats the rug’s colors.
35 7/8 x 50 1/4 in./91.2 x 127.8 cm
The Swiss dealer in carpets often used top artists and always encouraged them to come up with original ideas. A case in point is this quasi-Oriental idyll by Cardinaux, with the plush red rug as the featured attraction. Rare!
45 1/4 x 33 1/4 in./115 x 84.4 cm
With a coy sideline glance, this chic modern woman beckons your attention—lest she be whisked away on a Jazz Age magic carpet. Ludwig Zwieback & Brüder was a high-end Austrian department store founded by three Hungarian brothers in 1877; in 1906, Ella Zirner-Zwieback inherited the company, becoming a rare and successful female business owner in a male-dominated field. Ella represents a postwar countrywide shift in which the New Woman emerged: “She challenged conventional notions of femininity and sexuality by appearing in public with short hair, trousers, and an abundance of intellectual and sexual curiosity… the New Woman was typically portrayed mythically, particularly in the popular illustrations of Ernst Dryden, as ‘a symbol of uniformity and cold, haughty, unattainable elegance’ who responded largely to male subjectivity and desire” (Fashioning Jews, p. 84). Certainly, each of those characteristics are apparent in this provocative and lovely design.
35 5/8 x 50 in./90.5 x 127 cm
A sample of the wares forms the background of this poster for an Oriental rug dealer. Against the deep hues of the carpet, an odalisque stands out in her pale colors, sleepy yet seductive, offering a business card. After studying in Munich and attending Burkhard Mangold’s classes back in his home town of Basel, Stoecklin embarked on a wide-ranging career: he painted, did murals, designed postage stamps, and illustrated books. But his primary achievement remains a body of more than 100 posters.
35 5/8 x 47 3/4 in./90.6 x 121.4 cm
An opulent palanquin may conjure images of Indian princesses and exotic explorations, but it also serves as a brilliant display for the rugs on offer from G. Holliger & Co. Palanquins were traditionally outfitted with ornate rugs, pillows, and blankets to make for a comfortable ride.
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