New York— On Thursday, January 26, Swann Galleries will open their 2017 auction season with Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection, the largest such collection of works by the master and his circle ever to come to auction.
More than half of the over 200 lots in the sale are works by Mucha, tracing the artist’s career from his time in Prague, to Paris and New York. The selection offers rare views into Mucha’s process and personal life with previously unrecorded preparatory sketches for the famous Documents Décoratifs and Figures Décoratifs, as well as an etching of his young son.
One highlight of the sale is the complete set of Les Maîtres de l’Affiche, 1896-1900, a selection of the era’s posters from Europe and the U.S., compiled by Roger Marx. Each of the five volumes features posters by leading artists, including Mucha and others in the sale, in a special green and gold binding designed by Paul Berthon. In all, the set features 240 superlative posters reproduced as full color lithographs, and is expected to sell between $35,000 and $50,000.
Several works by Mucha make their auction debut, including a rare circular advertisement for the hair gel Krinogen, 1928, and a counter-top display screen for Savon Mucha, 1907 ($2,000 to $3,000 and $3,000 to $4,000, respectively). The scarce, smaller format of Nestlé’s Food for Infants, 1898, makes a rare auction appearance with an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000, while Bleuze - Hadancourt Parfumeur, circa 1899, which has been seen at auction only a handful of times in the last 25 years ($15,000 to $20,000).
In addition to posters, promotional ephemera designed by and after Mucha will also be in the sale, including chocolate tins, menus, programs and magazine covers, all of which speak to the artist’s popularity and ubiquity. Also present are several sets of decorative panels, for use as wall coverings in a fashionable fin de siècle home, including Têtes Byzantines (Byzantine Heads), circa 1897 ($15,000 to $20,000); Aurore et Crépuscule (Dawn and Dusk), 1899 ($10,000 to $15,000); and several versions of Les Fleurs (The Flowers), circa 1900.
Classical favorites for which Alphonse Mucha is known include the iconic Zodiac / La Plume, 1896, and Job, 1896 (each $15,000 to $20,000); La Trappistine, 1897, valued at $7,000 to $10,000; and Bières de la Meuse, in the exceedingly rare smaller format, 1897, expected to sell between $6,000 and $9,000. Further seminal works, such as the foreboding Medee / Sarah Bernhardt, 1898 ($12,000 to $18,000), and Monaco - Monte Carlo, 1897 ($12,000 to $18,000), will also be crossing the block.
The sale is filled out with works by artists in Mucha’s circle, most notably Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Confetti, 1894, and Babylone d’Allemange, 1894 ($40,000 to $60,000 and $30,000 to $40,000, respectively). Also available is the iconic Ambassadeurs / Yvette Guilbert, 1894, by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen ($4,000 to $6,000) and several other works by the artist. Travel posters by Adolfo Hohenstein, including Monaco / Exposition et Councours de Canots Automobiles, 1900, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, and works by Pierre Bonnard, Eugène Grasset and Privat-Livemont, among others, will also be in the sale.
Harry C. Meyerhoff was a Baltimore entrepreneur in construction with a passion for horse racing, evidenced by a run of equestrian posters that start the sale, topped by Ludwig Hohwein’s Das Goldene Buch / Des Sports, 1910, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. Meyerhoff assembled the Art Nouveau collection with his wife in the 1970s and ‘80s.
The auction will be held Thursday, January 26, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, January 21 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, January 23 through Wednesday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to noon.
An illustrated auction catalogue 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 or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Swann President and Director of Vintage Posters, Nicholas D. Lowry at 212-254-4710, extension 57 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Lot 211 Mucha, Princezna Hyacinta, 1911. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.