The first real public narrative movie screening took place in Paris in 1895 featuring the Lumière brothers' comedy short L'Arroseur Arrosé (The Waterer Watered). The event was promoted by a large poster that depicted an enthusiastic audience enjoying this new kind of entertainment.
It was created by prolific ad artist Marcellin Auzolle and marked the first public screening of Lumière films on December 28, 1895, at the Grand Café in Paris. The program featured ten short films, projected at a scale of around 6½×9 feet.
On September 30, Heritage Auctions will be the first auction house to offer this first movie poster to the public, as part of its Movie Posters sale.
There were actually two posters designed for the Lumière event. The other design, by Henri Brispot, features a crowd of people waiting to enter the screening, and that poster sold at Sotheby's in 2018 for £160,000. Prior to this moment in motion-picture history, any promotional material for an event to show off the new film technology depicted the technology rather than any individual film, or ads for the non-narrative titles were often simply text.
The original Auzolle poster comes to Heritage via Dominique Besson of Paris who said: "This poster is one of the first I bought over 40 years ago and is therefore from my personal collection. It was folded in the archives of a person whose grandfather had worked with the Lumière brothers. As you could see, it had remained folded since the origin, nearly 130 years."
Zach Pogemiller, Heritage's Associate Director of Movie Posters said: "This poster represents the birth of an entirely new genre of public art, one that continues to captivate and inspire the public worldwide. The Cinématographe Lumière French grande marks both the birth of the movie industry and poster collecting."