1888 Jules Cheret Theater Poster
Appraised Value: $1,500 - $2,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:26)
Prints & Posters
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: I bought this poster at an auction about six or seven years ago because it was flamboyant. I love the colors in it, and it just caught my eye.
APPRAISER: And when you bought it at auction, how much did you pay for it?
GUEST: I believe I paid about $350.
APPRAISER: Do you know anything about the poster? Do you know who the artist is? Do you know when it's from? Do you know what it's for?
GUEST: I really don't-- I hate to admit my ignorance. I understood that it was a theater poster. I don't know, really, anything beyond that.
APPRAISER: Well, it is a theater poster. It's Alcazar d'Ete, which was one of the two great French music halls on the Champs-Elysees only during the summer. There was also the Alcazar d'Hiver, which was the winter theater. But these were outdoor music halls on the Champs-Elysees, and this is a poster for a cabaret act for The Four Marten Sisters.
GUEST: Okay. I hate to tell you my ignorance, I don't know who they are.
APPRAISER: Their act is lost to history. They're the tambourine playing, gypsy dressing, dancing quartet, but they're obviously, you know, a minor sensation in the Parisian music halls at the end of last century. Now, to figure out when this poster is from is a little bit tricky, because there's no date on it. But I looked it up in some reference books, it's from 1888.
GUEST: Oh, my.
APPRAISER: Which is a really early lithograph. But the more interesting thing to me is who the artist is. Now, you don't see an artist's name anywhere on the picture. It's unsigned, but it is clearly the work of Jules Cheret. Now, Jules Cheret's name appears on the poster, but not as the artist. His name appears right here as one of the printers of the poster. Jules Cheret was basically the father of the modern poster. He's been called both the father of modern lithography and the father of the modern poster. And it was his work and his work alone that created the entire sensation of posters in Paris at the end of the 19th century. And what he did was, he was the master of combining four colors into a virtual rainbow of lithographic colors. Now, this poster predates his really colorful images. This is really only three colors, not four; it's red, blue and black. And it's unusual because Cheret's earlier lithographs are usually much smaller, so this is an early, three-color lithograph in a very large format. And in about two years after this he began designing the posters that were really filled with yellows, filled with reds, filled with purples and greens. But this is a very important early work of his. Now, outside of the fact that the frame is worth about as much as you paid for it, do you have any idea how much the poster inside the frame is worth now?
GUEST: I have no idea. That's one reason I came, because I didn't know if it was valuable or not. Like I said, I bought it because I liked it.
APPRAISER: It is valuable, it is interesting. It's a great document, because it's an early work of this important artist. I was negotiating with some colleagues about the price, and we decided that a very fair auction estimate would be $1,500 to $2,000.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness.
APPRAISER: And the great thing about auction is, if other people feel it's as rare as I'm telling you, then the price can only go higher. So it really does have a lot of pizzazz.
GUEST: Yes, it suddenly has more interest to me. It's great.
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