New York — Poster Auctions International’s (PAI) second sale of the year, on July 20th, finished at $1.9 million in sales. Rare Posters Auction LXXXIV demonstrated a continued passion for the masters of the poster—namely, Alphonse Mucha.
Jack Rennert, President of PAI, said, “This auction, collectors proved the enduring charm of Art Nouveau masters, and particularly that of Alphonse Mucha, whose Belle Époque works have a timeless appeal for seasoned and new collectors alike. There’s no question that Mucha was the star of this sale. But the strength of Art Nouveau works did not diminish the enthusiasm for Art Deco designs, as witnessed by our strong sales of works by Broders, Cassandre, and Loupot. As always, early designs for the circus continue to excite poster lovers, as evidenced by Pal’s billboard for Lord John Sanger.”
Indeed, collectors clamored for works from the master of Belle Époque beauty, Alphonse Mucha. His lush and evocative designs encouraged fierce bidding and record-breaking sales. His ethereal 1902 series of four decorative panels, The Stars, was the auction’s top lot, at $120,000 (est. $60,000-$70,000). His first-ever poster, Gismonda / Théâtre de la Renaissance, from 1894, beat all previous results for a winning bid of $50,400 (est. $20,000-$25,000). And his luminous Cycles Perfecta, from 1902, received a winning bid of $40,800 (est. $25,000-$30,000). Even a Lefèvre-Utile tin bucket designed by Mucha caused passionate bidding, earning a win of $9,000 (est. $1,700-$2,000).
All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
Another master of the Art Nouveau era, Toulouse-Lautrec’s works sold reliably well at auction. His top sale was for the 1892 limited edition print, La Goulue et sa Sœur, which sold for $78,000. His serpentine 1899 Jane Avril was sold for $72,000; the 1892 Reine de Joie was won for $66,000; his 1896 The Ault & Wiborg Co. / Au Concert went for $60,000.
Other gems of the Art Nouveau era delighted collectors. Ferdinand Lunel’s celestial Rouxel & Dubois bicycle poster, from ca. 1894, was sold for $6,600. The never-before-seen ca. 1900 Terrot / Bicyclettes de Tourisme, by Francisco Tamagno, was swept up for $2,880. A rare ca. 1898 circus billboard by Pal, Lord John Sanger / Troupeau d’Éléphants, surpassed its estimate of $7,000-$9,000 for a winning bid of $12,000. Eugène Grasset’s unsettling ca. 1894 La Morphinomane inspired energetic bidding, leading to a win of $14,400 (est. $7,000-$9,000). Privat Livemont’s iconic 1896 Absinthe Robette continued to enthrall bidders; it was won for $18,000 (est. $10,000-$12,000). And Henri Meunier’s evocative Rajah, from 1897, sold for $5,520.
For Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, two of his most famous designs continued to make poster lovers swoon. His 1896 Chat Noir / Prochainement captured a winning bid of $26,400; his charming 1894 Lait pur Stérilisé warmed collectors’ hearts, earning a win of $18,000.
There were also several notable wins for works from the Art Deco period. Roger Broders’ wanderlust-inducing travel designs were highly desired. His ca. 1930 Monte-Carlo sold for $13,200; the colorful ca. 1930 Corne d’Or was won for $5,280; the sumptuous 1928 Agay inspired a win of $6,600; his beachy 1930 Antibes was claimed for $8,400; and his famous 1929 Dunkerque sailed away for $16,800.