Section One

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Poster Calendar 1897
Edward Penfield
Self-portrait, 1896

In the mid-1890s, when publishers started commissioning posters from leading illustrators and artists instead of large lithographic printing firms, the artistic poster craze that had started in Paris was launched in America. Numerous commissions and exhibitions followed, enticing enthusiastic collectors and encouraging specialized dealers. So keen was the interest that there was even a demand for poster books, magazines, and calendars, such as this one by Edward Penfield.

A deluxe edition for collectors, it includes four black-and-white lithographic proofs along with four color calendar pages. The cover, depicting the artist at work, uses the opposing diagonals of the figure and the cat to suggest the depth of his work space, while the areas of flat color add to the boldness of the design. Penfield’s subtle humor is also evident: the cat, seemingly painted with those very inks it is eyeing so intently, appears ready to pounce on the uncorked bottles.