Alphonse Mucha Works Led Swann Galleries’ Auction of Vintage Posters

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NEW YORK—Several of the top lots in Swann Galleries’ February 25 auction of Vintage Posters were dazzling Art Nouveau beauties by Alphonse Mucha—a few of which set new auction records. The highest selling lot in the sale was a set of four elaborate decorative panels by Mucha depicting the Times of the Day from 1899, which brought $50,000.

Record-setting works by Mucha were single panels from that Times of the Day set, with Eveil du Matin, the Morning panel bringing $35,840 and Reverie du Soir, the Evening panel, $23,750; as well as a single sheet with Three Seasons, 1898, $10,625. Also among the Mucha highlights were his Documents Decoratifs portfolio with 72 plates, 1902, $27,500; two variants of Job, one from 1896 for $22,500, the other from 1898, $11,250; and The Seasons, set of four decorative panels, 1896, $18,750.

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Additional record setters were Philippe Henri Noyer’s effervescent image of mermaids swimming beside a large glass for Limonade Brault, 1938, $6,750 and Mather & Company’s sensible warning Don’t Lose Your Head / Handle Your Temper, with a red background and a disembodied hot head, 1924, $12,500.

More appealing Mather posters included Think “I” and You Work Alone / Help Others and They Help You, showing rock climbers, 1925, $7,000; Build a Seven-Day Reputation / Each Good Day’s Work Takes You Higher, with a figure balancing on a steel beam hoisted in the air, 1924, $6,500 and Starters and Finishers / Be Right at the Finish, with runners at the starting line, 1924, $4,000.

On the heels of the 2014 Winter Olympics, we saw a lot of interest for Witold Gordon’s III Olympic Winter Games / Lake Placid, 1932, which sold for $8,125, and other ski posters such as Alex Walter Diggelmann’s dynamic Pontresina, circa 1930, $6,750; Emil Cardinaux’s view of skiers in Jungfrau Bahn, Zurich, 1925,  $5,500; Erich Hermes’s image of a gentleman resting on the slopes with a cup of coffee and a cigarette advertising Winter in Switzerland, 1936, $4,750 and Walter Koch’s depiction of ski tracks in the snow for Zuger-Berg / Wintersport, circa 1910, $4,250.

High-flying aviation images included Rene Hermann-Paul’s ad for flying school Aerodrome de Cannes, 1909, $8,000; Hans Rudi Erdt’s Wrights / Flugvorfuhrungen, an announcement of Orville Wright's flying exhibition over Berlin, 1909, $7,250; Charles Rambert’s fanciful image of a pilot flying around the cathedral in Rouen, Grande Semaine d’Aviation, 1910, $6,250 and Gavrieli’s poster in Hebrew, Aviation Week / The Nation Needs Pilots and Planes, circa 1945, $5,750.

Rounding out the sale were other Art Nouveau classics such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster for singer Aristide Bruant / dans son Cabaret, 1893, $7,500 and Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s Cocorico, a magazine of the Art Nouveau era, $5,000; a horizontal-format image by Rene Vincent for Motorcycles Cottereau, 1905, $6,750; and American literary posters, among them Maxfield Parrish’s The Century / Midsummer Holiday Number, 1897, $5,376.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue, with prices realized, on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to consign items to spring and summer poster auctions, please contact Nicholas D. Lowry at (212) 254-4710, extension 53, or via e-mail at posters@swanngalleries.com.

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Alphonse Mucha, Eveil du Matin, 1899, sold for a record $35,840 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Don’t Lose Your Head / Handle Your Temper, Mather & Company, 1924, sold for a record $12,500 (including buyer's premium).

Auction Guide