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Travel posters
65 images for international tourism

Vintage travel posters offer a great perspective on the history of transit, the fashions of the time, and the destinations that were most seductive to visitors. They also offer a satisfying antidote to wanderlust by allowing us to escape the day-to-day with visual voyeurism.

1. Bridlington. 1925.
By William H. Barribal (1873-1956)
49 3/8 x 39 5/8 in./125.5 x 100.7 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

Whether you view this scene as the isle of empowered women or a lure for single male travelers, one thing is certain: this poster is an utter charmer. The women have donned their Jazz Age beach finery and have 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. Rare!

2. Great Yarmouth & Gorleston-on-Sea. ca. 1935.
By Charles Pears (1873-1958)
49 1/4 x 39 5/8 in./125 x 100.7 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

To advertise beach side getaways in Norfolk, Pears keeps it simple—and stunning. The unimpeded ocean-meets-clouds backdrop allows this bathing beauty in her very modern swimsuit to take central focus. Swimming and sunbathing became popular British pastimes in the 1920s and ’30s, and bathing suits evolved with figure-hugging materials and more revealing cuts for movability and better tanning potential. Ladies like this one became iconic symbols of British seaside resorts and modern recreation activities. Rare!

5. Moonlight Bathing on the East Coast.
By G. Stanislaus Brien
50 x 40 in./127 x 101.6 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

We typically assume that beach going is a daytime activity, but why not bathe under the glow of the moon? Brien makes a strong case for nighttime ocean outings with this Cubist-inspired design for LNER’s East Coast offerings: not only does this group appear to be having a bash, but the moon’s silver beams add a magical glow. Brien was born in Poland and went on to become a lino-cut artist, illustrator, and posterist in England; he created a number of powerful designs for the London Underground, the LNER, and Shell. Rare!

11. Genua. 1931.
By Aurelio Craffonara (1875-1945)
27 3/4 x 39 1/4 in./70.2 x 99.8 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

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. This is the German text version.

13. Taormina. 1927.
By Mario Borgoni (1869-1936)
27 5/8 x 39 1/4 in./70.2 x 99.6 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Borgoni offers us a peaceful vista from the cliffs of Taormina, the ancient Greek city on the east coast of Sicily. The old town, situated atop a very steep cliff 820 feet above the sea, provides the perfect panoramic vista of the town, the Ionian Sea, and the grand Mount Etna, which is the highest active volcano in Europe outside the Caucasus. Borgoni created a number of posters for the Italian Government Tourist Board ENIT, and all are equally resplendent.

98. Pan Am / New York. ca. 1970.
28 x 42 1/8 in./71.2 x 107 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

This anonymous designer gives us a glimpse of New York frozen in time; the original World Trade Center towers are preserved in amber, glowing amidst the blue light of a Manhattan summer sunset. As Joan Didion poignantly wrote, “Blue nights are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its warning.” The towers— ever symbols of a distant New York, of loss, of evolution—will always remain a part of the collective conscious as they’re guided by Lady Liberty into the night. Rare!

178. Sainte-Maxime. 1928.
By Roger Broders (1883-1953)
24 1/4 x 39 3/4 in./61.6 x 101 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

In many of his great works, Broders used “a process close to the technique of paper cutouts. Sainte-Maxime remains his masterpiece of this category. The palm leaves, the sea, the beach, the sails, are nothing but non-underlined flats. Here again Broders is able to express, as by magic, the light of the Mediterranean—light—always light” (Broders/Travel, p. 13-14). The poster was reissued in a smaller format the following year, and again eight years later for the SNCF, the national railroad into which the PLM and others were consolidated. The poster’s endurance attests to its quality.

257. L'Hiver à Monte-Carlo. 1937.
By Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962)
20 3/8 x 39 1/4 in./62 x 99.7 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

The Gatsby is strong in Domergue’s life and work. As a resident of Monte-Carlo, swanning about with the glitterati was both his artistic subject and his life’s object. It was a rather ideal business model: illustrate the world’s most beautiful women on the Riviera, design fashion accessories for them, and organize elegant balls in which to show them all off. He became a local celebrity in the process. This is one of Domergue’s finest designs—a perfect balance of colors and forms as the flashbulb-Hollywood couple is caught by the paparazzi. This is the smaller format.

352. Nice / Travail & Joie. 1947.
By Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
25 x 39 1/4 in./63.5 x 99.7 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

This poster, created in the same year as the painting, transforms Matisse’s “Still Life with Pomegranates” into a promotion for Nice, the town of work and joy.

353. Flexible Flyer / Moose Head Hotel. ca. 1937.
By Sascha Maurer (1897-1961)
24 1/8 x 37 1/4 in./61.2 x 94.8 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

Old Forge, New York is a quaint hamlet tucked away in the Adirondack region; as of 2010, their population was 756, and they regularly record the lowest winter temperatures in the state, as in their 1979 record low of -52 degrees Fahrenheit. All signs point to ideal ski conditions, as evidenced by Maurer’s athlete flying high above the snowy peaks.

371. Northern Pacific / Yellowstone Park. 1924.
By Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
40 1/2 x 30 in./102.8 x 76.2 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

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). This is the horizontal format of the poster.

394. Nord-Wagons Lits - P.L.M. 1927.
By Jean-Raoul Naurac (1878-1932)
29 3/4 x 42 in./75.5 x 106.7 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

The Paris-Lyon-Mediterranée railway advertises the plush Pullman accommodations on its north-south route with an elegant couple and furnishings in matching rich blue. Although the rural countryside speeds by the window, inside the cabin is nothing short of cosmopolitan luxury.

409. Strandbad Interlaken. ca. 1930.
By Martin Peikert (1901-1975)
34 5/8 x 49 3/4 in./88 x 126.5 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Peikert compels viewers to visit the bathing beach of Interlaken with this lithe and lovely Art Deco muse. The town is tiny, but famous: nestled between two stunning lakes in the heart of Switzerland, it boasts an Olympic pool, a band shell, and a lakeside beach that offers a combination spa/riviera-esque experience for guests. Note Peikert’s superb artistry at the model’s midriff, where the line of the mountain plummets directly into the curve of the woman’s white belt, then onward into the snowcapped peak—accommodated perfectly by the crook of her elbow.

416. Côte d’Azur. 1962.
By Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
25 3/8 x 38 in./64.5 x 96.5 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

Picasso opens a window on to the Riviera, permitting the viewer, at least graphically, to while away in the balmy breezes and lucid colors of the sun-sated paradise. One of the aspects of Picasso’s genius—whether in posters or paintings—that is altogether awesome is his ability to create permanence and vitality from a few, relatively harried series of brushstrokes, evoking whatever he chooses with the facility of doodling. Two versions of this design exist, the other being a Cannes variant.

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