Friday, August 2, 2013

American Literary Posters 1895-1897

by Stephen J. Gertz

Lippincott's January 1895. 18 x 12 in.
Design by J.K. Gould, Jr.

On August 7, 2013, Swann Galleries is presenting a Vintage Posters auction within which is a collection of scarcely seen American literary posters, lots 31 through 44, from the late nineteenth century. 

Noteworthy for the view they provide of publishers' contemporary marketing tactics, using in-house promotional magazines and posters to tout their books, the visual imagery is arresting and patently influenced by the work of French Art Nouveau artists Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) and Toulouse-Lautrec, particularly those by Edward Penfield.

Lippincott's October 1895. 18 x 12 in.
 Design by Will Carqueville (1871-1946).
Lippincott's March 1895. 19 x 12 1/4 in.
Design by Will Carqueville.

William L.  Carqueville (1871-1946), based in Chicago, designed posters for Lippincott's magazine and others. He was influenced by Edward Penfield's American style, clean, simple and without flourishes.

LO-TO-KAH by Verner Z-Reed, 1897. 15 1/2 x 14 3/4 in.
Design by Maynard Dixon (1875-1946).

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) is famed for his Western-themed work, in which he deliberately avoided the romantic cliches of the genre to focus on "honest art of the west."

The Century August 1896. 19 x 14 in.
Cover by Joseph C. Leyendecker (1874-1951).

Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951) was one of the most celebrated American illustrators of the early 20th century. He is best known for his poster, book and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, his most famous series of advertising images. He provided the cover illustration to over 320 issues of The Saturday Evening Post. 

Scribner's April 1896. 18 x 14 in.
Design by Henry Mayer (1868-1953).

Henry Mayer (1868-1953) was deeply influenced by French Art Nouveau, too deeply, perhaps. His work was considered "good in method if not strikingly original" (W.S. Rogers, A Book of the Poster, p. 93).

ABOUT PARIS by Richard Harding Davis, 1895. 14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.
Design by Edward Penfield (1866-1925).

In an era known as the "Golden Age of American Illustration" Edward Penfield (1866-1925) stood out. Influenced (as so many) by contemporary French illustrators, he brought his own sensibility to design and may be justifiably be considered the premier exponent of American Art Nouveau, a direct, down to earth and stripped to its essentials take on the French school with a view toward the flat blocks of color associated with Japanese prints. No flamboyant and ornate swirls for him; he's less Mucha, more less-a. His work has been included in almost every major book on American illustration, and he was a major contributor to the evolution of graphic design. In 1998 Penfield was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

Harper's January 1896. 17 x 11 in.
Design by Edward Penfield.
Harper's May 1895. 16 x 13 in.
Design by Edward Penfield.
Harper's March 1895. 19 x 13 in.
Design by Edward Penfield.
Harper's November 1895. 16 x 11 in.
Design by Edward Penfield.
Harper's Christmas 1895. 25 x 20 in.
Design by Edward Penfield.

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries, with our thanks.

1 comment:

  1. /Can't you find any books to write about these days


Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email