A collection of beautiful Art Nouveau posters will head to New York next month, for a sale that should see collectors making space on their walls in anticipation.
The sale by Swann Auction Galleries on December 15 has almost 200 posters dating from the late 19th century, advertising everything from books to burlesque shows and amongst the artists, one name will stand out: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Recognised as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period, his work captured the vibrant bohemian spirit of Paris at the time (particularly the Moulin-Rouge) and amongst the posters on offer are some extraordinary examples of his work.
His 1893 poster entitled 'Cadieux' celebrates a comedian of the time, described by writer Georges Montorgueil as "a fat slob, well-fed, pot-bellied and good-natured . . . the king of shirkers". It features dynamism of movement that Lautrec returned to in later works, and is one of his most detailed caricatures. It has an estimated price of $60,000 - $90,000, and is the highest valued poster of the sale.
Another of his works was designed to advertise the 1893 book entitled 'Reine de Joie / Moeurs du Demi-Monde' (Queen of Joy / Customs of the Demi-Monde).
The book caused a scandal as its main character, a lecherous old man named Baron Rosenfeld, was based on the very real Baron Rothschild who took offence and successfully sued the publisher. The poster was described at the time as "bright, attractive and superbly perverse" and remains so to this day, with a value of $30,000 - $40,000.
Other artists featured in the sale include Alphonse Mucha, whose distinctive style influenced psychedelic work from the 1960s (including Pink Floyd covers) and Fernand Toussaint, part of the 'Le Sillon' group of avant-garde Belgian painters.
These posters can be seen as both stunning works of art and cultural artefacts at the same time. With the majority of them produced to promote events or advertise products they are the perfect combination of form and function.
With the art market currently booming, works like these will appeal to serious collectors and investors alike. They offer an excellent entry-level investment (considering the record for Lautrec's work is $22.4m), and are certain to appreciate in value.
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