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"Postcard & Poster Artist
Carlo Pellegrini, Jr. (1866 - 1937)"

by Henry Gessler
Used with permission.


054_small.jpg     F153_small.jpg


Carlo Pellegrini (jr.) painted over 450 images mainly for postcards and larger V) n_small.JPGlithographs. In 1911, he followed in his father’s footsteps, creating 15 cartoons, signed Ape jr., for the London periodical “Vanity Fair”, including the Coronation portrait of King George V in naval uniform (shown at left). In 1912, three of his paintings won the Gold, at the Stockholm Olympics, then disappeared. Recently a large litho (Vouga Series 211 #2), of one of them, has come to light. He also designed some small stamp-like labels for resort use, and a number of full-size advertising posters. An exhibition of his work was held in the Swiss Olympic Museum, Lausanne, in 1987, and the Swiss Sports Museum, Basel, has a strong collection. The posters are represented in museum collections, notably in Zurich (Museum für Gestaltung), and the Swiss National Library.

His father, Carlo Pellegrini Sr., came to London from his native Italy, and became famous as the originator, in 1868, of the famous “Vanity Fair” Cartoons, signing variously as “Ape” or “Singe”. Carlo jr. appears to have spent most of his time on the Continent – he was sighted in Adelboden in 1909 – but came to England in 1910/1911 for the “Vanity Fair” series. After the Great War, his movements are not certain, although he sent one of his own cards ((H) T10) to a friend in Milano from Erba, posted 1/11/23. His work appeared in Italy and Switzerland, and he died in Geneva in 1937.

His work was published by various companies. The main one appears to have been Vouga & Cie, of Geneva, until they had a disastrous fire, in which most of his originals were destroyed, probably including the Stockholm Gold Medal trio. (Luckily, a few “got away”, and the writer has one original painting, of which no form of print has been found). It is not certain, who printed their cards, except that those with a “pigskin” finish, were probably printed by Sadag of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, in France, who specialised in “héliogravure”. Other postcards bear the imprints of: Charnaux Frères & Cie., of Geneva; Photoglob, and Lith. Anstalt Gebr. Fretz, of Zürich; Bertarelli, Berardi, Guarneri, all of Milano; Lith. Saüberlin & Pfeiffer, of Vevey; Hubacher AG, of Bern; and Ph. B. (full name and location not known). Of the advertising posters, one of Adelboden done for the SBB in 1910, was printed by Litho-Werke A. Trüb & Cie, of Aarau, and one advertising the V Swiss National Ski races 1909, by Graph. Anstalt I. E. Wolfensberger, of Zürich. The Société d’Affiches (et de Réclames) Artistiques seems to have printed the mountain railway posters. It is not certain how many advertising posters also appeared as postcards.

PHB 7520_small.jpgThe Charnaux cards, with undivided backs, are obviously the earliest, with dates 1901 & 1902 seen. Posters in postcard format apart, only Vouga, of all the publishers, produced a variety of sizes. A number of resorts was used to produce pictures. Like Picasso, apparently Pellegrini made considerable use of photographs. It would seem his figures were superimposed on the views in question. This can also be seen in a Swiss series (Ph.B.: 7501-44 – with grey borders). For example, the dogcart at Bern, shown at the right of this paragraph.

KAd_04_small.jpg  The writer has enough of his Swiss tourist postcards to make reasoned guesses as to the relevant serial numbers. A number of advertisement postcards also exists, for resorts (e.g. Adelboden), for hotels (e.g. Hotel Hilterfingen, Grand Hotel Kurhaus shown here, Adelboden), and for products (e.g. Atoxicafe - an early caffeine-free brand). How many more there were of each is not yet clear. There was a series of eight Official Postcards for the 1905 Central Swiss Rifle Meeting in Bern. A few winter sports cards were printed on backs advertising “La Belle Jardinière” of Paris. Some Vouga postcards were sold in envelopes with a picture by Pellegrini on the face, containing a number of cards.

Around 1923, he drew a series of “Indian Ink” cards for Brigatti of Milano (equivalent to London’s Lillywhite’s store), when they undertook the concession of the Palazzo del Ghiaccio skating rink. I received 15 photocopies of originals in the possession of Brigatti’s, and later found a 16th original. They were printed by E. Berardi, and are not numbered. Also in Italy, post 1918, many series of 12 cards in packets were published, by various publishers, with numerous repetitions from one series to the next. The actual printer(s) of the cards is not certain.

A few of the Vouga cards, invariably Swiss locations, were also over-printed, and are recorded on an “as is” basis. In addition to the resort groups, which bear the initial letter of each locality, a number of the views can be identified from the pictures themselves.

One card, Vouga #101, (a pair to #102)), has been found with the incorrect number (#113) on the reverse. Card #113 clearly belongs to a different section.

Various numbers have also been reprinted, even “refaced”, with more detailed visages. Different back details can also imply different “editions”. The first 25 numbers are known with and without text titles in capitals, these titles being repeated in the poster versions (Series 180; 17” x 11.5”). Sometimes earlier pictures were “rehashed” – e.g. #103, which is very like #33; and, a skier doing the telemark on card #155, reappears in the Vouga large litho Series 211 #2. Artists of the 20th Century were as unscrupulous as composers of the 18th in the matter of recycling!

A few unsigned, unnumbered, and unframed, rip-off copies have been found, and are listed separately, using the originals’ numbers, with (R) to distinguish their status. The detailed differences are intriguing.

The catalogue leaves spaces for known or likely missing images. Any help with scans to fill these will be gratefully received (please make initial contact by email).

M) q PdG_small.jpgFor the record, all numbered images are taken from originals, unless otherwise stated. The unnumbered Brigatti set is the writer’s artificial lettering. The yellower images (such as the one shown here at the left) are originals, the whiter photocopies from original postcards. The PC-sized BW photos of original paintings, with plain backs, are also artificially numbered. Larger images, including the original painting, are scanned or digitally photographed from originals, unless otherwise stated. Q7 & Q12 are downloaded, and the Swiss National Library images can be Internet-accessed via “Swiss National Library” > Collections > Posters > Pellegrini (various other artists of that surname are represented).. Other original paintings have been traced through auction catalogues, whence images or descriptions have been noted..

The author hopes this work will be of real value to those who collect this artist’s work in whatever form. Perhaps, at some future date, a study of auction catalogues etc., will enable a set of valuations to be added, for the better guidance of collectors and dealers alike.

Henry Gessler,

The above writer is happy to send copies of the fully illustrated catalogue on DVD (because there are too many megabytes for a CD) for the cost of the postage, packing and disc – free of all mark-up – updated as at the date of request.

London, 18th July, 2008.

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