David Anthony

L'Ermitage by Paul Berthon, c. 1897, From Les Maitres de L'Affiche

L'Ermitage by Paul Berthon, c. 1897, From Les Maitres de L'Affiche

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Directory: Fine Art: Prints: Lithographs: Pre 1900: Item # 1456983
David Anthony
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PO Box 630
Atlanta, Georgia 30009

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L'Ermitage has been lauded by modern commentators as the exemplar par excellence of the Art Nouveau movement, especially with respect to posters which played a significant role in publicizing and glamourizing its artistic expressions. One of its leading practitioners and exponents was Paul Berthon (1872-1934), a French commercial artist who supplied 3 prints, including his masterpiece l'Ermitage, for the highly acclaimed subscription based French serialization of Art Nouveau lithographed posters known as Les Maitres de L'Affiche produced by Jules Cheret from about 1895-1900.

Art dealer, and poster specialist David Yaneff, who classifies this print as "Most Rare" , said this about l'Ermitage:

This is Berthon's greatest masterpiece. Homage to it is seen in it's placement on the cover of many important poster reference books, such as Stanley Appelbaum's "The complete Masters of the Poster (Les Maitre de l'Affiche)" as well Victor Arwas's definitive study "Berthon & Grasset."

Our poster is not a top grade specimen. It shows significant discoloration of the paper and the ink at the bottom is quite faded. And if the fold crease across the middle has not bitten you, please take note of it in several of the photographs. But even with these defects, it would be a reasonable example for many collectors and Art Nouveau enthusiasts given its great rarity.

But this print has a trump card, so to speak, in that it was hand signed by Berthon himself for which occasion I have yet to determine. Please take care to note that I am not talking about a plate signature. In the lower right corner is an inscription, the first line of which has been largely obliterated, followed by the closing "cordial ? Paul Berthon."

If you examine the signature, it appears as though the last name starts with a W or R. However, it is in fact a lower cased b, and then when so seen it is clearly signed berthon. I have not examined the print out of the frame, though I will be forced to do so, and should do so for conservation purposes.

The incredible rarity of this print is amplified by the unbelievable discovery of what must surely be the only artist signed poster of l'Ermitage in existence.

As framed 28" x 19 5/8"