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Propaganda Dominates Swann's Vintage Posters Sale

On August 2, Swann Galleries will close their spring-summer season with an extravaganza of Vintage Posters that span the last 150 years.  Marking the centennial anniversary of the U.S.’s entry into World War I, the sale will feature the largest number of posters from the conflict the house has ever offered. James Montgomery Flagg’s iconic I Want You for U.S. Army, 1917, estimated at $7,000 to $10,000, leads a group of galvanizing images from both sides of the Atlantic.  Flagg is well represented in the sale, with several of his famous works promoting Wake Up America Day, together with various factions of the military.  Also available are patriotic works by Howard Chandler Christy, Joseph C. Leyendecker, William Dodge Stevens and Lucy Kemp-Welch. A prodigious selection World War II propaganda brings the total number of war posters in the sale to nearly 250. Leading the way is the iconic Keep Calm & Carry On, published in 1939 by the British Ministry of Information and never officially distributed ($12,000 to $18,000). Similarly, 1941’s Join the ATS by Abram Games, valued at $3,000 to $4,000, was never released publicly because it was considered too suggestive.  Additional highlights include popular works by Victor Ancona, E.B. Greenhaw, Leo Lionni and Karl Koehler.

From the nineteenth century a parade of Art Nouveau masterworks includes Eugène Grasset’s Abricotine, circa 1905, and Babylone d’Allemagne, 1894, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ($7,000 to $10,000 and $20,000 to $30,000, respectively). The charming A la Bodiniére, 1894, by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, valued at $6,000 to $9,000, joins sensuous works by Jane Atché, Leonetto Cappiello, Ludwig Hohlwein and Alphonse Mucha.

A selection of circus and magic posters features highlights from Barnum & Bailey’s and the Ringling Brothers. A promotional poster for magician Harry Jansen displays his stage name and catch phrase: Danté / Sim – Sala – Bim! mysteriously bears the signature of Ted Henty, a policeman turned ghost-hunter ($12,000 to $18,000). A more modern assortment of entertainment images includes French music hall, theatrical and movie posters, including the renowned advertisement by Robert McGinnis for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961, starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, valued between $4,000 and $6,000. Two colorful works by Roger Broders will be available: Menton, circa 1923, depicts a French seaside while La Côte d’Azur ses Montagnes, circa 1930, shows a vertiginous mountain valley ($1,500 to $2,000 each). Beach scenes by Maurice Lauro, Fortunino Matania and Alberto Vargas demonstrate the newfound popularity of coastal tourism in the first half of the twentieth century.

The auction will be held Wednesday, August 2, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continuing at 2:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Thursday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, July 31, through Tuesday, August 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Nicholas D. Lowry at 212-254-4710, extension 57, or via e-mail at posters@swanngalleries.com.

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