Poster Auctions International’s (PAI) first sale of the year, on March 20, finished at $2,880,000. Rare Posters Auction LXXXVI proved that the poster market shows no signs of slowing down.
Jack Rennert, President of PAI, said, “Once again, I am humbled by the passion demonstrated by our consignors and bidders. At such a tumultuous time in the world, we could not have predicted the great success of this sale. It’s clear to me that collectors are not only looking for beautiful objects to display in their homes, but investment pieces as well.”
As with previous sales, collectors vied for works by Alphonse Mucha—especially his lesser seen designs. The top sale from the Belle Époque master was his 1902 Documents Décoratifs, an exquisite portfolio of decorative elements and poster designs that sold for $55,200 (est. $25,000-$30,000). His 1903 Exposition de St. Louis, estimated at $12,000-$15,000, was hotly desired—it was eventually won for $50,400. His 1917 Bohemian Heart Society made its auction debut, wowing collectors into a $48,000 win (est. $5,000-$6,000). His evocative 1896 Lance Parfum “Rodo” beat out its estimate of $8,000-$10,000 for a win of $45,600. A never-before-seen drawing, Seated Woman, was a must for collectors, earning a winning bid of $40,800 (est. $7,000-$9,000).
All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
Passionate bidding was similar for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose rarer lithographs captured the attention of collectors. This auction’s top sale was his iconic 1891 Moulin Rouge / La Goulue, which sold for $240,000. Collectors were enraptured by his 1899 Le Jockey, which was won for $96,000 (est. $50,000-$60,000). His 1898 L’Automobiliste was available for the first time at auction, and collectors vied for the chance to win—it was sold for $72,000 (est. $40,000-$50,000). The rarest state of his 1896 Salon des Cent—before letters, hand-signed, and one of 50 impressions—captured a win of $66,000 (est. $35,000-$45,000).
For the “father of the poster,” Jules Chéret, it was actually his paintings that awed collectors the most. The pastel “La Danse,” with swishing ladies against a blue Impressionistic background, was won for $36,000 (est. $15,000-$20,000). The small-scale but sassy “Jolie en Rose” oil painting was secured with a winning bid of $21,600 (est. $8,000-$10,000). And his more somber “Les Belles Musiciennes” pastel was won for $14,400 (est. $8,000-$10,000). Of course, his 1893 poster, Folies-Bergère / La Loïe Fuller could not be resisted; it sold for $6,600 (est. $4,000-$5,000).
For Privat Livemont, bids were competitive and enthusiastic. His 1896 Absinthe Robette continues to be hotly desired, leading to a win of $33,600 (est. $12,000-$15,000). His 1897 Bitter Oriental also inspired healthy bidding; it sold for $10,200 (est. $5,000-$6,000). And his rare decorative panel from 1897, La Vague, earned $14,400 (est. $4,000-$5,000).
Further Art Nouveau highlights include Adolfo Hohenstein’s exquisite 1900 Monaco / Exposition de Canots Automobiles, which was won for $10,800. Ludwig Hohlwein’s incredibly rare and vibrant Zoologischer Garten München, from 1912, accrued a win of $18,000 (est. $8,000-$10,000). Another powerful design by this German designer, the 1910 Münchener Renn Verein, secured a winning bid of $8,400 (est. $3,500-$4,000).
Sales were similarly impassioned for works from the Art Deco era. Paul Colin’s seminal 1927 Bal Nègre received a winning bid of $90,000. Charles Loupot’s one-of-a-kind billboard for St. Raphaël / Quinquina, from 1938, was won for $55,200 (est. $35,000-$45,000). And his first design for that company, the 1937 St. Raphaël, earned $24,000. For A. M. Cassandre, two posters were particularly notable: his 1928 The Continent via Harwich sold for $26,400 (est. $17,000-$20,000), and his 1929 La Route Bleue was won for $28,800 (est. $20,000-$25,000).
Robert Falcucci’s two designs for the Monaco Grand Prix were well received; his 1930 design sold for $36,000 (est. $25,000-$30,000), and his 1932 image sold for $31,200 (est. $20,000-$25,000). A rare ca. 1928 design, Buster Keaton / L’Opérateur, by Jean A. Mercier, received a high bid of $14,400 (est. $7,000-$9,000). Marcello Dudovich’s little-known Cicli Dei, from 1934, zoomed away for $9,000 (est. $6,000-$7,000). From Hugo Laubi, a 1925 design for PKZ / Le Vêtement Confortable charmed bidders into a win of $5,760 (est. $4,000-$5,000). Francis Bernard’s stylish Nicolas was sold for $6,000 (est. $3,000-$4,000). Josef Fenneker stunned collectors with his 1921 Marmorhaus / Der Teufel und die Circe, leading to a win of $10,200 (est. $3,500-$4,000).
Of course, Leonetto Cappiello continued to seduce collectors with his innovative and unforgettable designs. The 1903 Absinthe Gempp Pernod, estimated at $6,000-$7,000, received a hard-fought win of $18,000. His delightful 1906 Zeste sold for $12,000 (est. $8,000-$10,000). The devilish Pineral, from 1912, was secured for $15,600 (est. $8,000-$10,000). The haunting Cordial Campari, from 1921, achieved a winning bid of $20,400 (est. $17,000-$20,000). His lovely 1927 Nice inspired plenty of bids, earning a win of $13,200 (est. $7,000-$9,000). And his 1922 maquette, “VOV,” captured a top sale of $19,200 (est. $14,000-$17,000).
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