Posters featuring the four seasons interpreted by Spanish and French forms of Art Nouveau were among the top-priced entries in the sale at Poster Auctions International (20% buyers’ premium) in New York on July 21.
The work of Czech artist/designer Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), who worked in Paris when Art Nouveau was at its height, will be very familiar but less well known is the work of Alejandro de Riquer (1856-1920).
His set of The Four Seasons panels from 1900, each measuring 22½in x 3ft 10in (57cm x 1.17m), realised $10,000 (£7690) against a $7000-9000 guide.
Seldom seen compared with Mucha’s famous designs, it is the equivalent in the Spanish version of Art Nouveau, termed Modernisme.
The art movement centred on Catalonia around the end of the 19th/start of the 20th century, fin de siècle period which was the heyday of Art Nouveau across Europe. A key figure of Modernisme was Antoni Gaudì, the Barcelona architect.
Posters Auction International offered a selection devoted to Mucha, featuring several versions of his famous set of Four Seasons including his trademark female figures diaphanously draped in flowing clothing.
One set, shown below, a rare variant from 1900 with the imprint of L Brancher, each panel measuring 12¼in x 2ft 4in (31 x 71cm) plus the complete titles and descriptions, came in at $38,000 (£29,230) against a $45,000-55,000 estimate.
Another from 1896 in a larger size, each panel measuring 22in x 3ft 5in (56cm x 1m), was guided at $40,000-50,000 and realised $36,000 (£27,690). A third, smaller format and lower estimated set, dating from 1897 failed to get away.
The highest price of the 494-lot auction was paid for another French classic of the Art Nouveau era: Henri de Toulouse Lautrec’s (1864-1901) portrait of Aristide Bruant promoting his cabaret at the Eldorado on the Boulevard de Strasbourg in 1894.
The 3ft 3in x 5ft (1 x1.5m) two-sheet poster sold just under lower end of the $70,000-90,000 estimate for $65,000 (£50,000).
Keen interest emerged for a rare poster from the Art Deco era by Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942) advertising Porto Pitters that shows two tigers fighting over a bottle of port which has a tiger’s head trademark.
The 3ft 8in x 5ft 1in (1.16 x 1.56m) poster from 1928 doubled its $8000-10,000 estimate to take $18,000 (£13,845).
£1 = $1.30