Lush decorative designs exemplify the tenets of Art Nouveau: curvilinear forms, organic patterns, and romantic muses which celebrate beauty in its highest form. Our 89th auction includes masterful works from de Feure, Hohlwein, Klimt, Livemont, Mucha, Steinlen, and more.
William H. Bradley (1868-1962)
What’s better than one swirling Art Nouveau beauty carrying a hefty tray of Thanksgiving delights? Two swirling Art Nouveau beauties! It’s another mesmerizing design by the American Art Nouveau master.
By Georges de Feure (1868-1943)
Resurrected in 2016 in the biopic “La Danseuse,” Loïe Fuller continues to captivate us as much in the 21st century as she did in the 19th. After the success of her “Serpentine Dance,” Fuller took her kaleidoscopic light-and-movement show to new heights with “The New Salomé.” De Feure’s brilliant poster appears to show Loïe’s head and body facing in different directions, implying a sense of the rapid movement and dizzying optical illusions so essential to her routine.
By Georges Gaudy (1872-1940)
As part of the 1910 World’s Fair in Brussels, a dog exhibition was held, surely to the great delight of canine lovers around the world. Toys, shepherds, and hounds are all represented in this lovely image by Gaudy. The text at bottom also informs us that all participating breeds will be fed by Spratt’s. Rare!
By Adrià Gual (1872-1943)
“The Books of Hours” was a creative project of Gual’s, and here he announces its release with a lovely Art Nouveau image that seems to be inspired by Japanese prints.
By Léon Hingre (1860-ca. 1929)
Rivaling the ornate Art Nouveau flourishes of Alphonse Mucha, this impeccably detailed design advertises a Paris store and includes a 1902 calendarium. This poster also has excellent colors!
By Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949)
Hohlwein, Germany’s premier posterist and lover of animals, was the natural choice to announce the opening of the Nuremberg Zoo in 1912. His creatures are rendered with biological accuracy, but they are often imbued with a special sense of emotional character. Such is the case with his charming zebra and parrot duo, who manage to appear striking and welcoming at the same time. Hohlwein makes another brilliant decision in his choice of background color, which forms the zebra’s black stripes and hooves. A variant of this poster has text that reads “Tiergarten Nürnberg”—both iterations are exceptionally rare!
By Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
The painter, designer, and decorator Gustav Klimt was also the founder of the Secessionist movement. He fired the artist group’s opening salvo with this poster for the first Secessionist art exhibition in 1898. “This poster is unprecedented in its composition. It caused a sensation, and not only on account of the empty space which fills the centre of the picture… It also demonstrated to the public the awakening of the ‘Sacred Spring’ (ver sacrum) of Viennese art. In the upper part of the picture is depicted the battle between Theseus and the Minotaur, watched by Athena, the faithful helper of brave warriors, goddesses of wisdom, and patroness of the arts. Of course the picture—Theseus is just drawing back to deliver the death blow—was intended to symbolize the battle between the Künstlerhaus and the Secession” (Kossatz, p. 29). This is the censored version of the poster; to soothe the moral outrage of the Vienna police, trees were added at the top of the image as camouflage for Theseus’ naked body. Rare!
By Privat Livemont (1861-1936)
This is one of Livemont’s most expressive works. In 1901, W. S. Rogers called this poster of a girl painting on porcelain, “his most beautiful work, by reason of the excellence of its composition, its comparative simplicity, and the refined loveliness of the girl’s face.” The Delacre company, more than 120 years later, still uses this design on its biscuit containers. Livemont was the foremost Belgian practitioner of the Art Nouveau style. His posters invite comparison to Mucha, but it should be remembered that he had already produced several posters by the time Mucha created his first. Above all, Livemont was a skilled lithographer, a quality evident in the subtle color gradations and detail of this sensual poster.
By Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
This is Mucha’s single most famous work, though it seems impossible that such flamboyant effort would be devoted to selling cigarette papers. But the exotic tendrils of her hair conjure up the fractal whorls of smoke from an idle cigarette. The image is breathtaking; the beauty intoxicating. Photographs are seldom able to capture the metallic gold paint used for the hair, which gleams and radiates in the light, delivering an experience not unlike a religious icon. This printing boasts excellent colors and full margins.
By Manuel Orazi (1860-1934)
Orazi created this Art Nouveau masterpiece to coincide with the 1900 Exposition Universelle. His vision of Loïe Fuller is as original as the performer herself: emerging from a hazy color field anticipating Rothko, upward into erotic form, then bubbling with Japanese family crests, with hair floating as if a Mucha goddess underwater, and breathing a bouquet of white roses into being. It’s one of at least three color variants. Orazi’s posters are as seldom-seen as they are magnificent: famous for his exquisite La Maison Moderne poster (see PAI-LXXXV, 400), Orazi also created the Calendrier Magique, an occult themed calendar limited to an auspicious 777 copies. Rare!
By Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
Steinlen arrived in Paris from his native Switzerland in 1882; his first poster dates from 1885. He had a long and extremely prolific career that saw him illustrate about 100 books and over 1,000 issues of periodicals, as well as create paintings, lithographs and bronzes, and about fifty posters. Abdy makes this point: “Steinlen was one of the four or five great poster artists of his time; all his lithographic work is distinguished by a freshness and vigour which makes it powerful, and a simplicity and sympathy which makes it appealing… The subject of his posters are those dearest to his heart, his pretty little daughter Colette, and his beloved cats” (p. 94). All the warmth, humanity and affection for which he is so loved comes through gloriously in this poster for the newly marketed “lait stérilisé” that was touted over the “lait ordinaire” at that time. Charles Knowles Bolton, writing a year after its publication, proclaimed that this “is perhaps, the most attractive poster ever made. No man with half a heart could fail to fall in love with the child.” Louis Rhead himself commented: “When I saw it in Paris last year… it seemed to me the best and brightest form of advertising that had appeared.” That judgment remains valid today. This is the extremely rare two-sheet version of the poster classic that he redrew two years after the appearance of the initial design (see PAI-LXXXVIII, 456). There are some slight changes to the design—the bowl is tilted forward, and the cats’ tails are more fully shown. The overpowering charm of the design remains—all the more so because of its large six-foot high format. This is the version before letters with vivid colors.
By Henri Thiriet (1866-1897)
“A saleswoman at the Place Clichy White Sale shows a discerning customer some fine bed linens. Thiriet makes the women’s appearances and attitudes so charming and gives the sheets themselves such sumptuous volumes that purchasing what is essentially a household requirement seems as delightful as choosing a new dress” (Gold, p. 18). Crauzat, announcing its publication in L’Estampe et l’Affiche, calls it “a beautiful design with pleasing colors. We hope that it will be followed by many more [from the artist]” (1898, p. 43). Pleasing colors might be an understatement in this case—this poster boasts incredibly vivid colors: tangerine lettering and accents, burgundy and turquoise apparel, and the strangest—but most delightful—scarlet hair.
In-gallery viewing February 24-March 25 (11am-6pm daily)