Rare vintage French posters go up for auction

PUBLISHED: 11:40 11 February 2020

Posters by Bernard Villemot, Winter Sports/Fly Air France Jets, 1954, estimate $800 to $1,200 and Jacques Dubois, Join the sun on a ski-run in France, circa 1950s, estimate $400 to $600 (c) Swann Auction Galleries

Posters by Bernard Villemot, Winter Sports/Fly Air France Jets, 1954, estimate $800 to $1,200 and Jacques Dubois, Join the sun on a ski-run in France, circa 1950s, estimate $400 to $600 (c) Swann Auction Galleries

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Delightful posters depicting Belle Époque Paris and winter sports in the French Alps are expected to make thousands

Rare vintage ski and winter sports posters along with those from the heyday of Belle Époque Paris are going under the hammer.

Many of the winter sports poster lots come with estimates in the thousands of dollars, while the rest of the 400-plus lot auction features strong categories for the history of cycling and tourism in continental Europe, as well as some of the rarest and most valuable from the early masters of poster design, including Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Posters by Tony George Roux, Font - Romeu/Sports d'Hiver, 1923, estimate $1,000 to $1,500 and Jean Léger, Sports d’hiver en France, estimate $600 to $900 (c) Swann Auction GalleriesPosters by Tony George Roux, Font - Romeu/Sports d'Hiver, 1923, estimate $1,000 to $1,500 and Jean Léger, Sports d’hiver en France, estimate $600 to $900 (c) Swann Auction Galleries

In particular, the ski and winter sports poster market has grown substantially since it first developed in the 1980s, with collectors targeting specific posters according to design, subject matter, artist, resort and condition.

With some dating back well over a century and covering resorts in the French Alps, the colourful and dynamic designs come from the hands of some of the best poster artists in history.

Two posters designed by Alphonse Mucha as decorative panels form a pair and are titled Têtes Byzantine, estimate $10,000 to $15,000 each (c) Swann Auction GalleriesTwo posters designed by Alphonse Mucha as decorative panels form a pair and are titled Têtes Byzantine, estimate $10,000 to $15,000 each (c) Swann Auction Galleries

Meanwhile, posters designed by the greatest names of poster art in 1890s Europe, works by French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paris-based Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, the leading light of the Art Nouveau movement, are estimated at up to $20,000 each. Highlights include Job, an 1896 design by Mucha for cigarette rolling papers, carrying an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.

Three other designs by Mucha, each pitched at $10,000 to $15,000, show the artist at his most inspired by the developing Art Nouveau style. Two designed as decorative panels form a pair and are titled Têtes Byzantine. Dating to 1897, the facing profiles of women - one blonde, one brunette - were among the artist's most popular designs at the time.

Folies Bergère/La Loïe Fuller by Pal, promoting the American dancer Loïe Fuller, dating to 1897, estimate $1,000 to $1,500 and Elles, an 1896 lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, estimate $4,000 to $6,000 (c) Swann Auction GalleriesFolies Bergère/La Loïe Fuller by Pal, promoting the American dancer Loïe Fuller, dating to 1897, estimate $1,000 to $1,500 and Elles, an 1896 lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, estimate $4,000 to $6,000 (c) Swann Auction Galleries

Elles, an 1896 lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, formed the frontispiece of a portfolio of erotic lithographs by the artist for the publisher Gustave Pellet. It is one of Lautrec's most celebrated works and a copy can be found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The example in Swann Galleries' auction is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.

Other highlights from Belle Époque Paris include Folies Bergère/La Loïe Fuller by Pal, promoting the American dancer Loïe Fuller. Dating to 1897, the estimate is $1,000 to $1,500.

Adrien Barrère designed L'’Idéal du Touriste, estimate $3,000 to $4,000 and Mucha's Cycles Perfecta of 1907  is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000Adrien Barrère designed L'’Idéal du Touriste, estimate $3,000 to $4,000 and Mucha's Cycles Perfecta of 1907 is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000

Adrien Barrère, another leading poster artist of the period, designed L'Idéal du Touriste, an extremely scarce 1903 view of a woman on a bicycle, whose graphic appeal is enhanced by strong block colouring. Only one other copy is ever known to have been seen at auction. Estimated at $3,000 to $4,000, it is just one of a number of posters promoting the highly popular pastime of cycling at the turn of the 20th century. Another Mucha poster, Cycles Perfecta of 1907, is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.

The Vintage Posters auction is due to take place on 13 February at 10.30am (EST) at Swann Auction Galleries in New York.

Live online bidding is available via the website swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries app, which means bidders from all over the world have direct access to the sale.

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