In a field largely dominated by men, female posterists are few and far between—but equally deserving of stature. Our 88th Rare Posters Auction happens to include 14 powerful female artists, whose works range from sensitive to compelling, and all with great graphic prowess.
43 1/4 x 59 1/8 in./109.7 x 150.2 cm
Formed in England by Thomas Humber in 1869, Humber Cycles would eventually, like so many bicycle companies, become dominated by its automobile division. At the turn of the century, though, bicycles were still all the rage, as can be seen in this dreamy design which gives a heavy nod to Mucha’s poster for Cycles Perfecta. In both, only a hint of the bicycle is shown, while the heavenly muse grabs our attention.
20 x 30 1/8 in./51 x 76.5 cm
Lady Liberty, ever the symbol of American patriotism, is enlisted once again to call on Americans to purchase a liberty loan to support the efforts of World War I. Notably, this image was designed by one of the very few female artists who created posters during the War. DeLand studied at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry; she taught art at the Corcoran School of Art and McKingley High School in Washington, D.C. for 35 years.
38 3/4 x 65 in./98.5 x 165 cm
This was an 1889 painting that was reproduced as a poster to promote Buffalo Bill’s Wild West European tour in 1905. Bonheur, a much-lauded French artist, painted this portrait when Colonel Cody visited her at her chateau. This is the larger, two-sheet format with tip-ons at top and bottom—printed by Weiners in Paris—announcing two performances on Friday, June 23, 1905. And while Weiners printed the other variants of this poster, this is the rare, original Courier lithograph.
22 3/8 x 32 1/8 in./56.8 x 81.7 cm
This is the rare proof before letters in the smaller format. “We know just enough about Jane Atché to be intrigued. She was born in Toulouse, worked in lithographic prints—at first in black and white only, later in color—and earned an honorable mention at the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français in 1902. Her scarce posters all disclose that Mucha was obviously [a strong influence]” (Wine Spectator, 101). Abdy, in fact, considers Atché one of Mucha’s two best followers in France (p. 100). Of her half dozen known posters, this one for the cigarette paper firm is her most spectacular. We get the lyricism of Art Nouveau in the handling of the green dress and the smoke, combined with a compelling Lautrec-esque management of the solid black cape as it slashes through the design. On all levels, it succeeds completely.
28 x 40 1/8 in./71 x 102 cm
Provenance: The collection of Ida van Bladel, art director of Young & Rubicam
Years before an underaged Brooke Shields scandalously confessed that nothing came between her and her Calvins, van Bladel showed the world that slipping into a pair of Levi’s was as good as slithering into a very tight second skin—a directly clever, succinct statement. The Antwerp-born designer was the art director at Young & Rubicam International in Brussels, where this remarkable poster was created. And while it was a huge hit in Belgium, the image was not approved for American distribution. This uncut printer’s proof emphasizes Levi’s new wares specifically for women; it’s quite rare!
30 3/4 x 47 in./78 x 119.5 cm
Gontcharova’s long and productive career spanned several countries and many styles. She could be very expressionist, or be in the midst of Futurism, or, as in this poster, at the very core of Cubism. After a successful career of painting and teaching in Russia—as well as exhibiting in all the major European avant-garde shows, including the 1911 Blaue Reiter and the 1913 Der Sturm exhibitions—she went to Paris in 1914 where she settled permanently. There she was involved in all facets of theatrical work, including designing sets for Diaghilev. Illustration also preoccupied her, but she did little in the medium of the poster. This one for the Grand Bal de Nuit at the Salle Bullier is a spectacular evocation of the Cubist style which was seldom used in posters. Whether one sees in it a couple under a tree or some other image, one gets an impression of a vivacious “happening.”
12 3/4 x 19 1/2 in./32.5 x 49.5 cm
For an exhibition of engravings, Laurencin rounds up a stylish group of female print collectors who casually browse the collection with a laissez-faire attitude. Her watercolor-like approach lends a dreamlike quality to the entire scene.
24 1/8 x 35 1/2 in./61.2 x 90.2 cm
In 1871, Breslau was the sixth-largest city in the German Empire. A historically German region, it was the center of German Baroque literature during the Enlightenment period. Following World War II, the region was incorporated into Poland and renamed Wrocław. Here, Pfeiffer-Kohrt offers up a jubilant prewar celebration in the historic city. The “Fest Week” included sports, games, and art; her adorable child and baby goat must have been a wonderful incentive to attend.
13 x 20 1/8 in./33 x 51.2 cm
Sonrel wields her brush to depict a classic Victorian scene: two ladies, dressed to the nines, attend afternoon tea in a grand hall. Presumably sisters, the seated girl appears to be daydreaming while the other gives her a surreptitious glare of either jealousy or extreme admiration. It’s a quizzical scene, and a wonderful example of Sonrel’s technical expertise as an artist.
31 x 48 in./79 x 122 cm
Created by the wife of Don Miguel Utrillo and mother of Maurice Utrillo (both poster artists), this poster announces the 4-A Ball of May 20, 1927.
30 5/8 x 45 1/4 in./77.8 x 115 cm
At the center of this poster, a conductor—yes, that’s him with the baton—raises his hands, signaling that the symphony is about to commence: the second ever AAAA Ball (Aide Amicale Aux Artistes, or “friendly help to artists”). Numerous benefits and balls for artists were held in Paris around this time; this one was an overture to Russian artist émigrés from the Bolshevik Revolution. The artist, Marie Vassilieff, preceded them: she arrived in Montparnasse in 1907, opened her own atelier in 1912, and collected works by Chagall, Modigliani, Picasso, and Léger. She was a nurse for the French Red Cross during World War I, and painted the ornamental panels for the pillars in the dining room of La Coupole. She exhibited puppet portraits in London in 1920 and in Paris in 1923; these were obviously inspiration for this 1924 poster.
Each: 13 x 19 in./33 x 48.4 cm
Created by two of America’s preeminent female illustrators, this rare illustrated calendar is a classic. In 1904, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly reported, “It is not often… that a child’s calendar serves two years, or that it is elevated into a book after doing its work as a mere record of days and weeks. Yet ‘The Child,’ a calendar for which Jessie Willcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green made the drawings, proved so deservedly popular that this year the drawings are published as a book.” This is the original 1904 calendar set, including the cover and six illustrated calendars. (7)
24 5/8 x 39 1/2 in./62.6 x 100.5 cm
In a field largely dominated by men, Anna Katrina and her sister Doris Clarke carved out a significant space for posters designed by women. They both created a number of images for the London Underground and various British railways. Here, Zinkeisen uses her sensitive perspective to present a verdant view of Dovercourt, a seaside resort in the county of Essex. A mother in her sun hat leads her child down the path towards the beach, adding a charming feminine touch to the pastel-hued scene.