As a tool for advertising, travel posters are meant to seduce viewers into booking a trip to locations both near and far. Tantalization is key for the commercial success of the brand, and poster artists understood how to persuade and entice passersby. If the landscape alone isn’t interesting enough, then perhaps some stunning female revelers will do the trick—otherwise, a little creative embellishment of the local sights doesn’t hurt. Here, we’ll take a look at travel posters in our 82nd Rare Posters Auction and compare them to the actual locations being advertised.
49 3/8 x 39 5/8 in./125.5 x 100.7 cm
Est: $8,000 - $10,000
Both images provide a sense of the bustling activity of Bridlington in its heyday: the Victorian era through the 1930s. But Barribal seizes on the attractive power of a group of free-wheeling ladies in their Jazz Age beach finery. They’ve taken to the sea with such enthusiasm that viewers must have felt compelled to board the next LNER train to Bridlington straight away. Barribal was a commercial artist who worked for Schweppes and Vogue; his wife, Gertrude Louisa Fannie Pitt, served as his model for many designs, including this one. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the women share common facial characteristics—all borrowed from Gertrude.
45 x 30 in./114.2 x 76.2 cm
Photograph by Alison Day
If it wasn’t already clear by the very Cézanne-like landscape depicted in this poster, Carel Weight was primarily a painter; his most acclaimed portrait was of another painter, Camille Pissarro. Here, he gives us the rare poster design—and a lovely one at that—to advertise trips to Britain’s landmarks care of Shell. In the far distance, the abstract shape above the hill represents Haldon Belvedere, an 18th century castle-like estate. Its position 244 meters above sea level with 99 steps leading to its roof continues to impress visitors with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The photograph provides a realistic perspective of where Weight may have composed his design.
27 3/4 x 39 1/4 in./70.2 x 99.8 cm
The greatest seaport in Italy, Genoa spreads itself over a mountain amphitheater facing out towards the splendor of Italy’s Eastern Riviera. It is a city of surprises and contrasts, where the most luxuriant palaces stand side by side with the lowliest alleyways, commonly called “carruggi.” From the overlook of the Villetta Di Negro, we can take in the lush vegetation resulting from the sun’s saturated beams. The belvedere-labyrinth terrace below teems with palm trees as it cascades over the higher ground to the northwest of the Piazza Corvetto, from which a lovely view of both city and sea can be appreciated by all. Craffonara has carefully taken all of these details into consideration, but he’s opted for an unrealistic perspective to better exemplify the many visual treats of this city.
25 3/8 x 40 1/4 in./64.6 x 102.4 cm
Grassi plays a clever visual trick by allowing the image’s border to form the window of a tower; from it, we can take in the peaceful countryside of Assisi, best known for the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, seen here at center. Grassi was a painter, designer, architectural illustrator, and ceramicist who went on to co-found the Architecture Department at the University of Rome. He produced a number of posters and stamps for the Italian Tourist Bureau (ENIT); this poster is one such design.
24 1/2 x 39 1/2 in./62 x 100.4 cm
Here is a great example of a poster that employs a lot of creative license to make an impact. Retrosi brings together a host of the city’s most famous monuments: the Altare della Patria, the tower of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Column of Marcus Aurelius. In reality, each is situated in a distinct location, although they are within reasonable proximity to each other. As far as we know, the three cannot be viewed simultaneously. But the juxtaposition is a savvy move on the part of the posterist.
25 1/8 x 40 in./64 x 101.5 cm
To advertise TWA flights to Germany, Greco presents us with a quintessential German village. While it’s likely meant to show the idyllic historic towns scattered across the country, we think it’s likely that the artist was inspired by Rothenburg ob der Tauer in Bavaria; the town is well-known for its well-preserved medieval old town. The Marcus Tower with its Röder Arch, built around the year 1200, is one of the town’s oldest and most recognizable landmarks, and it would appear to be a valid source of inspiration for the artist.
40 1/2 x 30 in./102.8 x 76.2 cm
Influenced by Turner’s sense of color and composition, Moran used his ability to romanticize the American wilderness in promotional commemoration of Congress establishing a National Park System in 1916. Successful, he soon created similar designs for the railroad, resulting in the “first and certainly the most reproduced poster image [of his] famous painting ‘Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone’” (Travel by Train, p. 83). And it’s no wonder the image became so beloved: Moran does a knock-out job of capturing the cascading light, the monumental peaks and valleys, and the steam rising up from the Canyon’s lower falls.
25 3/8 x 38 in./64.5 x 96.5 cm
Let’s be honest: Picasso was not one for realistic perspectives. Whether working in painting, sculpture, or advertising posters, he always presented his unique sensibility for space, color, form, and line. In this case, his vision of the French Riviera is not completely off the mark: the sun-sated paradise, with its balmy breezes and lucid colors, is immediately evoked in this design. The illusory element is the trio of love birds, who flit between a stylized mosaic abstraction and more realistic figuration. Picasso was, after all, a lover of animals, and we’d venture to guess that his Côte d’Azur home played host to many a creature. For a view from Picasso’s home here, see the second photograph.