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21 powerful sea-faring designs

Battle ships, cruise lines, and several images of the famous Normandie reveal the fascinating development of sailing vessels from the early 1900s through the mid-20th century. And they are testament to the wild wonder of transoceanic travel.

131. Voyage Autour du Monde / Round the World. 1891.
Artist: A. Schindeler
48 3/8 x 35 1/2 in./123 x 90.2 cm
Est: $20,000-$25,000

This detailed design promotes round-the-world travel in style via ship and rail. The globe gives us part of the itinerary: from the right, the ship comes through the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, then by railway from Marseille to Le Havre, by ship again to New York, where the railroad—shown at the bottom of the design—takes you to San Francisco either by way of Chicago or New Orleans, and finally by ship again across the Pacific. One of the most magnificent travel posters ever created.

137. Normandie / Voyage Inaugural. 1935.
Artist: Jean Auvigne (1859-1952)
11 1/2 x 19 3/4 in./29.3 x 50.3 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000

The Normandie, in all her sharp geometric splendor, slices across the ocean on her inaugural journey from France to New York. Auvigne opts for a monochromatic atmosphere to amplify the deep black of the ship and her shadow across the waves.

140. Marseille / Porte de l’Afrique du Nord. 1929.
Artist: Roger Broders (1883-1953)
24 7/8 x 39 1/4 in./63.3 x 99.7 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000

At the Porte de L’Afrique du Nord, hoards of international ships fill the peaceful sea as they anticipate new trade opportunities resulting from PLM’s railway expansion. From Broder’s idealized vantage point, we glimpse the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, a church dedicated to the seafarer, rising on the hill; the dome to the left, of the Cathédrale La Major, would be difficult to see from the harbor at this angle. Nevertheless, the geometric composition, specked with coral red and dreamy sea blue, is a powerful depiction of the monumental change about to shake Marseille.

141. Normandie / Service Régulier. 1935.
Artist: A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
24 1/4 x 39 in./61.6 x 99 cm
Est: $6,000-$8,000

The classic design appeared with several variants of text at the bottom, this being the version with the ship’s name emblazoned over its ports of call, with the added reminder that these are “de luxe ships” in a class all their own—but we would have known that from Cassandre’s image alone.

143. Transatlantique / Atlantique-Pacifique-Mediterranée. 1937.
Artist: Paul Colin (1892-1986)
15 1/8 x 23 3/8 in./38.3 x 59.3 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

“Colin realized at least three posters for the General Transatlantic Company, known throughout the entire world by the name ‘French Line.’ Here, the somber ship cleaving the shimmering waters is seen sailing through a transparent drape consisting of the French colors, a delightful way to remind [the viewer] of the nationality of this transport company” (Colin Affichiste, p. 132).

145. French Line / Paris to New York. 1934.
Artist: Hubert Herkomer (1881-?)
24 3/8 x 39 3/4 in./62 x 101 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Herkomer presents a breathtakingly evocative and romantic dream of travel from the French Line C.G.T. You can certainly see, in this execution, Air France’s much later brand proposition of the vessel itself as a miniature Moveable Feast of Paris. All the city’s highlights rise out from the prow as if they were freehand sketches by an artist on the banks of the Seine. Below the waterline, an entire miniature skyline of the City of Light stretches out to form the border between image and text.

146. Atlantique / Sudamerika. 1931.
Artist: A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
11 3/8 x 17 5/8 in./29 x 44.7 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Cassandre’s original design for the Atlantique was so well-received that various additional promotional materials were also created using the image. For this 1931 reissue, a 1932 calendarium is attached.

147. Riviera-Dienst. ca. 1930.
Artist: Albert Knab (1870-1948)
29 5/8 x 38 7/8 in./75.3 x 98.8 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

The Hamburg-America line launched its service between Genoa and Nice in 1902 with only first-class service—but prices ranged from $3.09 to $3.86, depending on the distance of travel. Even considering conversion rates, it’s not a bad price at all to cruise through Italy to the French Riviera in style, and Knab certainly makes it appear lusciously appealing. French mariners were none too pleased, however, to learn that Marseille had allowed a Hamburg company to supplant it on the Côte d’Azur; French journals wrote of the “sad decadence of our merchant marine.”

148. Hamburg-Amerika Linie / Polarfahrten. 1927.
Artist: Käthe Olshausen-Schönberger (1881-1967)
19 3/8 x 28 3/4 in./49.2 x 73 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

1927 would have been a fine time to sail aboard a HAPAG three-bolt luxury steamer to witness the magnificent polar bears in their natural habitat. Olshausen-Schönberger presents us with an awe-inspiring view saturated with lovely cyan and snowcapped glaciers. Sadly, today’s North Pole is quickly becoming an unsuitable home for the wintry white beasts.

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