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Art Nouveau
Over 200 remarkable designs from the Belle Époque

Lush decorative designs exemplify the tenets of Art Nouveau: curvilinear forms, organic patterns, and romantic muses which celebrate beauty in its highest form. Our 85th auction includes masterful works from Chéret, Hohenstein, Livemont, Orazi, Schnackenberg, Steinlen, and more.

164. Kabuki. ca. 1900.
Anonymous
37 x 47 3/4 in./94 x 121.2 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

This absolutely incredible hand-colored poster promotes the kabuki theatre presentation being mounted at the Japanese Pavilion during the Paris 1900 World’s Fair. Not only are the vivid colors and diptych composition fascinating, but it’s also an intriguing design when placed into its appropriate historical context. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Japan was just starting to sow its colonial oats, as well as opening itself to trade with the rest of the world after centuries of isolation. Japanese prints had already become popular in Europe in the 1860s, and the term Japonisme was coined in 1872. But the Japanese Pavilion in 1900 allowed the country to display its art, theatre, and dance on a larger scale—and to a larger audience—than ever before. And prints were just the tipping point for European enthusiasts; performances by Japanese actress and dancer Sada Yacco would in turn influence the works of Loïe Fuller and Isadora Duncan. If Europeans weren’t already enthralled with Japonisme, they would be after attending this fair. Rare!

202. Narcoticure. 1895.
By William H. Bradley (1868-1962)
13 5/8 x 20 in./34.6 x 51 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

One tends to think of kicking the nicotine habit as more or less a contemporary obsession. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that athletes and celebrities endorsed various tobacco products. But this aggressive Bradley design—featuring the valiant knight of clean living lancing the tobacco demon—for the Narcoti Chemical Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, proves that freeing oneself from the clutches of smoking is a long-standing desire. Narcoticure claims to “Cures the Tobacco Habit in/from 4 to 10 Days.” And can one put a price tag on a new start to a healthy, non-addicted lifestyle? Obviously, the answer is yes, because at an 1895 cost of five dollars, it’s clear that this cure wasn’t cheap. Will Bradley was an innovative and influential typographer, designer, and publisher. The international Art Nouveau movement found its American expression in the delicate and ornate work of this genius. In 1895, Bradley moved from Chicago to Springfield, Massachusetts where he established The Wayside Press, a publishing and graphic arts venture whose main product was Bradley: His Book, an art magazine appearing monthly. Rare!

241. Impermeabili. 1897.
By Giovanni Battista Carpanetto (1863-1928)
39 3/4 x 65 1/2 in./101 x 166.2 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Downpours are of no concern for this signora, who—despite being entirely underdressed—is safeguarded by her G. Acconciamessa raincoat. Notice that even her feet are exposed in a pair of shower shoes, but that’s no issue for her. It’s an audacious image, and a savvy advertising ploy. Carpanetto studied art at the Albertina in Turin and worked primarily as a painter, but he had an important impact on lithography: he was one of Italy’s first poster artists, and he designed the poster for Fiat’s first automobile in 1899. This is a two-sheet poster—and rare!

264. Danse avec Pierrot : Painting. 1900.
By Jules Chéret (1836-1932)
18 1/4 x 31 1/2 in./46.4 x 80 cm
Est: $30,000-$40,000

In this impressive original work, Chéret employs his dancing maiden from his Musée Grévin / Fantoches de John Hewelt poster of the same year. “According to his set of themes, the play masks, the femme fatale (Colombine or Chérette, whatever her name) is not just a dummy model corresponding to the ethereal and sensually magnetic feminine type made sacred by the symbolists, but rather a bewitching wily woman who pierces Pierrot’s heart in the realm of Coquetterie… [His women are all] fairies but some are spectres. They are almost made up dead women, shaken up by frenzied laughter blown away by the fanatic search for pleasure above Montmartre and the towers of Notre Dame to the daily Sabbath of the music hall and public balls. This ghostly side ferociously stresses its madness and modernity” (Jean Forneris, p. 23). It’s one of Chéret’s finest and most accomplished paintings.

279. Marca Zenit / G. B. Borsalino. 1911.
By Marcello Dudovich (1878-1962)
40 1/2 x 56 3/8 in./102.8 x 143.2 cm
Est: $17,000-$20,000

“The poster with which he won a competition organized by the Borsalino Company in 1910 has been described by Attilio Rossi in these almost metaphysical terms: ‘It actually anticipates the so-called ‘poster-object’ later theorized by the German, L. Bernhard. In fact, in that dominant and unusual yellow light that invades the entire poster, the ‘still-life’ of the article to be advertised, the black bowler hat, becomes the inseparable protagonist while the armchair, the gloves and the stick recite sotto voce their subordinate role to the distinction and courtliness of the product'” (Hillier, p. 221). This is the larger, two-sheet format of this magnificent work.

295. Poésie de Crépuscule & Lumière Matinale: 2 Panels.
By Mary Golay (1869-1944)
Each: 15 x 41 in./38 x 104 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Golay, never one to use her talents in the crude service of commerce, takes us on a sensual stroll into the heart of the “Poetry of Twilight” and “Morning Light.” The enigmatic artist, an utter devotee to the precepts of Art Nouveau and all the splendid excesses which that entails, ushers us into our Garden of Eden with a pair of exotic herons and sends us luxuriantly into the evening in the company of two Ward’s herons, both set in marshy landscapes so pristine, so free of man’s wasteful thumbprint, that they can’t help but induce a wistful longing to be transported into their realm. (2)

316. A. Calderoni. 1898.
By Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928)
38 1/8 x 54 1/4 in./97 x 137.7 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

In one of the most exquisite posters for a jeweler ever created, Hohenstein depicts a willowy young beauty sifting through an overflowing jewelry box. Meanwhile, in the background of this two-sheet image, we catch a dreamy glimpse of the storefront in Milan. “Hohenstein can stand as a father to the Italian poster. Although he certainly had an eye on Mucha and, like him, loved large elongated formats, the similarity stops there. His figures were treated with impeccable photographic realism, and colored with a palette of dazzling richness which plays with the effects of light and shade” (Weill, p. 84). This variant does not include the bottom text with the store’s address.

331. Rajah. 1899.
By Privat Livemont (1861-1936)
15 7/8 x 29 3/8 in./40.3 x 74.6 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

A brand of both coffee and tea, Rajah is presented to us by an opulently dressed Byzantine lady. Set against a deep burgundy background, its name spelled in the steam, the product takes on an Eastern exoticism.

400. La Maison Moderne. 1900.
By Manuel Orazi (1860-1934)
46 3/4 x 31 1/2 in./118.7 x 80 cm
Est: $70,000-$80,000

Julius Meier-Graefe’s La Maison Moderne opened in 1899 as a competitor of Bing’s Maison de l’Art Nouveau, both high-end art dealers focusing on the latest in new, modern art—which, at the time, included the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Felix Aubert, and Pierre Selmersheim. The Maison, however, had a generally younger clientele and was more at the forefront of the movement than Bing’s. Orazi, the master lithographer and designer featured at the gallery, created one of the most brilliant masterpieces of the era to promote the gallery. The model—dance celebrity Cléo de Mérode—sits in serene stillness, surrounded by all manner of delicate object d’art, from elaborate combs to fanciful lamps, curious statues to languid glassware. These are the works of Alexander Carpenter, Maurice Dufrène, Adrien Dalpayrat, Henry van de Velde, Gustave Gurschner, and Joseph Mendes da Costa. It’s a tour de force in graphic design!

404. Job. ca. 1895.
By Pal (Jean de Paléologue, 1860-1942)
43 x 59 3/8 in./109.4 x 151 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

In one of Pal’s more sensuous designs, we are met with a daringly clad siren, coquettishly teasing us as she smokes a cigarette made with Job rolling paper. As with most advertisements for this brand, the company’s name is seen repeatedly in the poster. Here, the product is shown on the table—logo prominently displayed outward—and again on a folding screen behind the girl, which is conveniently the same color and style as the table-bound version. This is the before-letters version of the poster, and it is hand-signed by the artist.

411. Poster Show / Pennsylvania Academy. 1896.
By Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
28 x 43 3/4 in./71 x 111 cm
Est: $17,000-$20,000

To many collectors, this is the single most beautiful and important American poster created at the turn of the century. Incredibly rare, it stands apart from the rest of Parrish’s oeuvre, who typically rendered elaborate, heavily-detailed illustrations in brilliant hues. Instead, he gives us a simple image in muted tones, with flat planes of color and a masterful use of negative space similar to that of Toulouse-Lautrec. The uncluttered nature of the composition forces the viewer to lock eyes with the central figure—a gaze that only grows increasingly harder to break.

421. Bechstein. ca. 1896.
By Louis J. Rhead (1858-1926)
29 7/8 x 19 3/4 in./75.8 x 50.2 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Louis J. Rhead was able to extend the aesthetic of the Pre-Raphaelites right into the Art Nouveau period, and his work is as unmistakable as it is heart-lifting. Here, a choir of angels arrives in response to the tones from a Bechstein piano, played by a classic Pre-Raphaelite maiden wearing poet’s laurels. Bechstein Pianos was founded in Berlin in 1853; the company began supplying pianos to Queen Victoria, and in 1885 they opened a branch in London, paving the way to become one of the leading piano makers in the world. It remains so today. This is a rare variant with the company information included.

427. Odeon Casino. 1912.
By Walter Schnackenberg (1880-1961)
35 3/8 x 47 1/4 in./90.5 x 120 cm
Est: $25,000-$30,000

One of Schnackenberg’s finest creations, this couple exudes Art Deco style and sensuality. “One of Munich’s finest amusement venues, where the elegant world gathered after the theater and concert, was the Odeon Casino, for which Walter Schnackenberg designed a series of unusual posters. His vampy type of woman with a pageboy haircut and a fashion that anticipated the 1920s was a sensation and provocation in Munich at a time when the busty, sumptuously equipped ladies of the Wilhelmine era still dominated the image of women. [Schnackenberg’s woman was] thus a powerful motif for the ‘Jeunesse dorée’ (golden youth)” (Plakate München, p. 92). But there is also a sense of the uncanny, especially with the male dancer who emerges out of the shadows, his body confined to the darkness around him. It’s a perfect example of this artist’s “scenes of a decadent morbidity” (Weill, p. 111). This is the finest specimen we’ve ever seen!

435. MAB. ca. 1895.
By M. Stéphane
62 5/8 x 46 1/2 in./159 x 118 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

M. Stéphane’s rare, brilliant, and futuristic design elevates the humble ball bearing to its rightful place: ball bearings, in fact, are the spheres upon which the entire Earth turns. Other planets look on with envy, comets blaze past, and a beautiful nude Muse lies back in dreaming repose, confident in the knowledge that MAB-brand ball bearings spin the gears that crank the Cosmos. This poster includes an interesting stamp notice which states the poster can only be shown indoors. We’re not sure if it’s the lack of a tax stamp—or the brazen nudity—that compelled this decision.

436. Clinique Chéron. 1905.
By Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
53 3/4 x 76 3/8 in./136.4 x 194 cm
Est: $17,000-$20,000

This life-size poster for a veterinarian is one of Steinlen’s most beautiful, and today, it’s one of the rarest. The fine grouping of affectionate animals makes for a most appealing image. It also shows Steinlen’s gift for effective poster design: his composition forces us to look at the advertising message as our eyes go from the cats above to the dogs below. This is a two-sheet poster.

486. Gli Avvisi Delle Officine G. Ricordi. ca. 1914.
11 x 14 3/8 in./28 x 36.5 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

Executed much in the manner of Les Maitres de l’Affiche, this rare and complete portfolio of 70 beautifully lithographed Ricordi posters reproduces the work of Italian master posterists in a more manageable size. Published with the same meticulous care and quality as the Maitres series—which in some respects makes it even more rare and impressive seeing as it exhibits the work of a single publishing firm—the artists and works presented in the portfolio are astounding: Cappiello (4 posters—a pair for Mele, Livorno, and the tremendous Musica e Musicisti), Hohenstein (10 posters, including Monaco, Germania, Monte Carlo, and Tosca), Metlicovitz (15, including Fleur de Mousse, Exposition Milan, and several Mele designs), Dudovich (7, with Mele being the primary representative), Franz Laskoff (10, including S. Petrus and Mele), and Mauzan (a pair of film posters). Other artists present in this prodigious assemblage include Achille Beltrame, Caldanzano, Cavaleri, Gallo, Adolfo de Karolis, Gian Malerba, Giovanni Mataloni, Aldo Mazza, Plinio Nomellini, Palanti, Enrico Sacchetti, Aleardo Terzi, and Aleardo Villa. An absolute must-have for the Italian poster aficionado!

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