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Who was the artist credited with creating the first modern posters?

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Jules Cheret
Alphonse Mucha
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Art Nouveau Chair

Early Art Posters Rock the Auction Block

 

NEW YORK, NY. -- Highly sought after posters by Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, two masters of early art posters led the sales at Poster Auctions International’s first sale of 2020. Both of these artists’ works sold for record prices, as did lesser known works, including posters that have never been to auction before.



Mucha’s enduring esteem reached a fever pitch with his incredibly rare—and incredibly opulent—Precious Stones from 1902. The four decorative panels each personify a different gemstone, and this larger format version is exceedingly scarce: only three or four full sets are known to exist. Fervent bidding amounted to a final total sales of $192,000, including sales premiums.

Precious Stones not only claimed the top sale at auction, but also set a new world record for sales of this work. The passion for Mucha continued with his iconic 1896 The Seasons; the four idyllic decorative panels were won for $45,600. Also, his celestial 1896 design for Sarah Bernhardt, La Dame aux Camelias was claimed for $31,200. Clearly, Mucha’s appeal only grows with time.

The prestige of La Belle Epoque continued with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose joyous Art Nouveau poster Confetti from 1894 sold for $40,800. His incredibly rare 1893 Les Vieilles Histoires sparked interest from multiple parties, leading to a winning bid of $31,200, against an estimate of $14,000-17,000.

For Jules Chéret, the father of the modern poster, sales were also enthusiastic. His 1897 Folies-Bergère / Loïe Fuller hasn’t been at auction since 2012, and collectors vied for the win. Estimated at $5,000-6,000, the work brought $16,800.

Fans of Art Deco Leonetto Cappiello’s works are always quite popular, but this time, a maquette stole the show. His 1927 preparatory work for Cognac Monnet, estimated at $30,000-$40,000, achieved a final bid of $52,800. His rare works also wooed collectors: the ebullient 1911 Florio / S.O.M. garnered an $18,000 win, easily surpassing its estimate of $7,000-9,000, while the 1902 Champagne de Rochegré topped out at $9,600, against an estimate of $5,000-6,000.

Jean Dupas caught collectors’ attention with two impressive Art Deco works—his indomitable Bal des Étudiants / Alhambra-8 Janvier 1927 earned a $43,200 sale. The gavel came down at $6,600 for his 1929 Spring Fashions Are Here!, which employs a similar otherworldly aesthetic. Charles Loupot also made an impact, especially with his 1939 maquette, St. Raphaël, which garnered $28,800. His 1921 PKZ / Burger-Kehl & C. surpassed its estimate of $12,000-15,000 for a win of $20,400. Another legend of the era, Walter Schnackenberg, delighted viewers with his dream-like Deutsches Theater, which was won for $15,600, against an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.

At the beginning of the auction, Black Images from the collection of Keith Williams were offered. By far the most impressive sale from this section was a rare 1918 image, Colored Man is No Slacker. Both tender and political, this recruitment poster to enlist black soldiers held sway over bidders. The competitive action quickly passed the estimated $800-1,000 for a sweeping victory of $12,000. Bidders exhibited a similar zest for Pogédaieff’s graphic 1931 design, Joséphine Baker, which sold for $10,200, against an estimate of $4,000-5,000.

Rarities continued to transfix collectors, as with Philibert’s 1921 Clair de Lune / Michelin of two Bibendums hitching a ride—the design, featured on the auction’s catalogue cover, sold for a sweeping $13,200, over twice its estimate. Orazi’s ethereal Théâtre de Loïe Fuller, from 1900, garnered a $33,500 sale, against an estimate of $20,000-$25,000. The similarly rapturous Cycles Gladiator, created around 1895 by an anonymous artist, secured the same amount.

But not all the posters were from the early 20th century. American designers of the latter half of the century also had their moment in the limelight. Fans of San Francisco rock posters took to Randy Tuten’s 1970 Jefferson Airplane / Quicksilver Messenger / Santana (‘Winterland’) for a benefit concert to bail out the Grateful Dead after their New Orleans arrest. Earning $4,800, twice its estimate. A rare circa 1910 design, Buffalo Bill & Pawnee Bill / A Sioux Chief, by an anonymous designer, claimed $7,800 against an estimate of $2,500-$3,000. Penfield’s 1898 Golf Calendar appealed to many a golf enthusiast, and its $10,000-12,000 estimate swiftly skyrocketed $21,600 at the close of bidding.

Learn more about the origins of the poster by reading "The Art of the Streets."

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