WHAT: "Divan Japonais," a popular advertising poster designed by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, brought $40,000 when it sold at Swann Galleries in New York this summer. Made in 1893, the poster was created to advertise the cafe/concert hall Divan Japonais, a popular nightspot. Shown are performers Jane Avril and Yvette Guilbert. Avril, the star dancer at the Moulin Rouge, is a spectator seated next to literary critic Edouard Dujardin. Guilbert, known for her long black gloves, is on stage in the background.
MORE: Produced during the golden age of French advertising posters, the work on paper is a popular design by Toulouse-Lautrec. Measuring 31 inches by almost 24 inches, this one sold matted and framed, in excellent condition with only minor tears and creases at the edges. Note design emphasis on the diagonal: This gives the art a playful, lively feel. The design is in the style of Japanese woodblocks so popular at the time.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: It is a given that advertising posters were made in quantity. But this is no ordinary poster. When originals come to market, they sell high.
HOT TIP: Beware: This collector classic has been copied at all price points.
BOTTOM LINE: If fortunate enough to be able to buy an original poster of value, it is imperative to know your seller. Buy only from a reliable, vetted seller.