Paris: Imp. des Arts Industriels, 1900 (ca.). 3 sheets (250 x 170 mm). Item #2984
These curious fin-de-siecle Parisian chromolithographs were created by the noted designer Francesco Nicolas Tamagno and are a joy to behold, as well as being perfectly suited for instructional purposes. Tamagno (1851-1933), an Italian by birth, lived in Paris from 1880 to 1914 and there designed some of the most iconic posters and commercial art of the era. Interestingly, we have been unable to locate any other examples of these particular chromolithographs, which are the very definition of ephemeral. In the present collection, each menu card is blank, save for Tamagno's excellent Pierrot figures which are invariably flanked by his sidekick, the very odd-looking clown. In the first menu card they are riding in a Hot Air Balloon and are observed by a gleeful Moon; in the second, Pierrot enjoys a moonlight serenade, playing "air guitar" with an oversized bottle of Cointreau, his sweatheart gazing down from a window while he is threatened by a irate vieillarde holding a stick. The final menu card is certainly unusual in that four different artists have apparently collaborated on its design: at a table are seated the Pierrot (this figure is signed by Tamagno), the odd clown (signed Jussol), a woman slipping her hand into a gentleman's pocket (signature indeterminate), and a second gentleman standing to the right, his glass raised to the merry company (signed Guillaume). It is no wonder that these menu cards were never used for their original purpose!