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Art Nouveau
Hundreds of luscious 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 87th auction includes masterful works from Bonnard, Dudovich, de Feure, Hohenstein, Livemont, and more.

182. Cinéma Pathé. 1909.
By Adrien Barrère (1877-1931)
59 3/4 x 45 1/2 in./151.6 x 115.5 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

Barrére, with his jaundiced eye and deft hand, seldom seemed to illustrate anything without an ironic edge to it, and this poster for Cinéma Pathé does not appear to be an exception. “Everyone brings their children there!” says the legend above, as wealthy industrialists and military officers and their children (all in exceptionally vibrant colors) watch a parade of wealthy industrialists and military officers on the silver screen, in what might be a promotion for Cinéma-Pathé’s new home motion-picture-camera technology. Founder Charles Pathé was the first international cinema mogul, and from the company’s inception through World War I, he helped produce more film footage than all other European and American producers combined.

192. Trentino. 1903.
By Luigi Bonazza (1877-1965)
56 x 80 3/4 in./147.3 x 205.2 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

The Alpine Society of Trentino (a region of the Italian Alps) advertises its recommended shelters, inns, and lodges with a mother and child being borne up into the mountains on the wing of a gigantic mythological eagle. Bonazza gives us a view of sport, nature, and indeed the world that is unbridledly, gloriously romantic. Bonazza was born in the town of Trento, for which the surrounding region is named. He studied in Vienna, where he remained for some 15 years. He specialized in watercolors, but upon his return to Trento, he left his mark in a different art form: by decorating the Church of Valsugana. He remained in Trento and taught design until his death. This is a two-sheet poster.

193. France-Champagne. 1891.
By Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
23 3/4 x 31 1/2 in./60.3 x 80 cm
Est: $25,000-$30,000

“Bonnard was just 24 when he made his first foray into lithography and poster design, but his initial effort, France-Champagne, was a stunning success. The great poster connoisseur, Maindron, immediately called it ‘one of the most interesting works to be seen on the walls of Paris.’ It created a marked contrast to Chéret’s colorful fairyland: it was sparse and subtle, making the most of a few strokes of black against a muted yellow and pink background, with ingenious composition and fluid lettering. Some saw in it the first major advance in the art of poster-size prints since the work of Daumier a generation earlier” (Wine Spectator, 57). Jane Abdy adds this interesting note: “He received a hundred francs for this ebullient design, in which the froth of the champagne foams like a bubble bath. Toulouse-Lautrec so admired it in the hoardings that he sought an introduction to Bonnard, and the two artists were intrigued by each other’s talents. Bonnard took Toulouse-Lautrec to Ancourt, his printers” (Abdy, p. 90).

267. Robert B. Goldschmidt. ca. 1896.
By Adolphe Crespin (1859-1944)
16 1/4 x 21 3/4 in./41.3 x 55.4 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Similar in composition to his 1894 Paul Hankar Architecte (see PAI-LXXXI, 265), Crespin takes us behind the scenes of Robert B. Goldschmidt’s chemistry lab. But there is one element that makes this a less career-oriented design: the Latin phrase “Love Conquers All” is placed at the top, which immediately shifts the tone from academic discovery to love potion exhilaration.

279. Esposizione Universale di Bruxelles. 1910.
By Marcello Dudovich (1878-1962)
41 1/4 x 56 3/4 in./104.7 x 144.2 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000

To announce Italy’s participation in the 1910 Brussels International Exposition, Dudovich hearkens to an allegorical figure representing Italy. In the distance, behind her swirling tricolor, we can just make out Milan’s iconic Duomo cathedral. The powerful figures are rendered with a sculptural quality, which likely references the Renaissance theme of Italy’s pavilion. Rare!

287. Salon des Cent / Exposition James Ensor. 1898.
By James Ensor (1860-1949)
15 3/8 x 23 in./38.9 x 58.6 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000

The great Belgian painter, James Ensor, was active in the Libre Esthétique from 1894-1914. His poster, to advertise his exhibition, is very much a personal statement and a masterful work in which Ensor is seen communing with demonic forces about him. This is the finest specimen ever seen of this image.

294. Le Journal des Ventes. 1897.
By Georges de Feure (1868-1943)
17 1/4 x 24 3/4 in./43.8 x 63 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

This poster for the Belgian Journal of the Auctions was immediately seized upon by contemporary critics and hailed as one of the finest works of its kind. Years later, Jane Abdy had the last and best word on it: “de Feure’s finest poster, and one of the most beautiful of the whole period… It is a triumph of color and design. He uses only brown, green and the dull pink of roses. Yet every possible shade of brown is in the poster, and the effect is a great richness and concentration of colour, like a mountain of brushed up autumn leaves… She is dressed in the height of imaginative fashion, and her hat is a victory of the milliner’s art” (p. 156). This is a hand-signed copy of the poster before letters—and with exceedingly fresh colors!

313. Goepp : Maquette.
By Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868-1938)
17 1/2 x 23 3/4 in./44.5 x 60.4 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

Grün allows his buxom ladies to take a break while he focuses on this dashing tattooed man with a very striking mustache. And who was this award-winning Goepp? We would sure like to know. The text here tells us that “The tattooed man is said to cheat death—the untombable of Paris.” And that’s all he wrote.

327. Fiammiferi Senza Fosforo. ca. 1905.
By Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928)
12 1/8 x 23 5/8 in./31 x 60 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

Considered to be the Chéret of Italian poster design, Hohenstein had the ability of taking the mundane and making it elegant and allegorical, if not otherworldly. He certainly does not disappoint here in this elaborate composition advertising Dr. Craveri’s safety matches. Around the turn of the century, laws were being put into effect all over Europe banning the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches, primarily because it stuck to the skin, causing serious burns. Therefore, safety matches, featuring red phosphorous, were growing exponentially in popularity. Here, a fire goddess of Renaissance-worthy beauty is sending the smoky darkness, complete with ominous snake, into oblivion. This is the smaller format.

335. Salon des Cent. 1893.
By Henri-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936)
15 5/8 x 23 in./39.6 x 58.5 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

This lovely design for the very first exhibition of the Salon des Cent gracefully references three famous characters from Commedia dell’Arte. Pining with love, the ever-sad clown Pierrot paints the beautiful ballerina Columbine as Harlequin; the man with whom she will eventually run off peers over his shoulder. It is a moment filled with romantic promise even though we know that historically this does not end well for Pierrot. Cleverly, Ibels has placed his signature on Pierrot’s canvas, possibly alluding to the sympathy he has for the character. Many comparisons have been made between the work of Ibels and Toulouse-Laturec: they both are captivated by slice-of-life moments, especially those surrounding performers and other fringe members of society who are unafraid to showcase the ugly or grotesque.

351. Cacao Van Houten. 1897.
By Privat Livemont (1861-1936)
24 1/2 x 60 3/4 in./62.3 x 154.4 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

In one of Livemont’s most gorgeous designs, the Art Nouveau goddess-next-door is about to indulge in her first sip of Van Houten hot chocolate. Perhaps the most evocative element in this image is not the beautiful woman dripping with flowers, but the sinuous wafts of steam gliding toward the sky. This is the larger format version of the poster.

380. Champagne Ruinart. 1896.
By Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
23 1/2 x 68 1/2 in./59.7 x 174 cm
Est: $14,000-$17,000

In 1729, Nicolas Ruinart decided to start a champagne company, much like that of his uncle’s dear friend Dom Pérignon. It remained a family business out of Reims until it was taken over by the Braon Philippe de Rothschild in 1950, and then again by Moët & Chandon in 1963. It remains one of the largest champagne houses in Europe. In this brilliant design by Mucha, “the lady’s face appears to be in perfect repose, and the hand holding the glass seems steady; but her hair betrays her, scampering off in wild abandon and thus conveying the notion of the effervescent effect of the champagne. Here, the hair actually has the function of subtly conveying a quality of the product, a rather novel use of a physical attribute in advertising in its day” (Rennert/Weill, p. 86). This is a two-sheet poster.

411. Perfumeria Ladivfer. 1903.
By Francisco de Cidón Navarro (1871-1943)
34 1/4 x 50 3/8 in./86.8 x 128 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

This delicate design won first prize in a poster contest organized by the Ladivfer cosmetics company—and rightly so, we believe. The gradation of pastel hues, the texture on this woman’s scarf, and the intimate gesture of smelling a freshly cut rose are all beautifully expressed in this lovely Art Nouveau design.

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