Artist: Adolfo Hohenstein German (1854-1928)
Title: Opera Comique "Iris"
Plate: PL. 180
Original lithograph from "Les Maitres de L'Affiche" series.
Printed by Imprimerie Chaix, Paris, 1899.
Presented in 16 x 20 in. acid free, archival museum mat, with framing labels. Ready to frame. Shipped boxed flat via Fedex.
Certificate of Authenticity.
Maitre Sheet Size: 11 3/8 in x 15 3/4 in 29 cm x 40 cm
Price: $450.00 Rare
Full size estimated at $15,000- $20,000 Swann Auction Galleries, N.Y. Dec. 2003.
The Mascagni opera “Iris” takes place in Japan. Iris—the daughter of a blind man—is desired by two suitors, Osaka and Kyoto. Hohenstein depicts a scene at the end of the first act: Osaka, the wealthy man, arrives to court Iris by singing her a ballad. She listens, enraptured, and is covered with veils by three geisha fairies representing Beauty, Death, and the Vampire as seen here in the upper right corner. Under the cover of these veils, she is abducted by Osaka, who sets her up in a house of illicit pleasures, resulting in much drama and tragedy that ends with Iris throwing herself down a shaft and ultimately dying in a dreamlike, flower enshrouded state. “The theatrical illusionism of the mature Hohenstein, his prestigious virtues in the manipulation of line and color, stand out fully in this poster, which for the artistic director of Casa Ricordi marks a decisive leap forward… a leap into the light: the sparkling and overwhelming light of the spotlighted scene, which here envelops Iris in a red glare, staining her fluctuating dress, in an omen of a bloody epilogue. Hohenstein… transforms the wavy and transverse lines of Iris’s dress and hair into a salient feature of the poster. It should be remembered that for Mascagni, Hohenstein also created four scenographic sketches in tempera or oil, 40 fashion sketches in tempera or watercolor, and nine tooling tables: all of which were used both for the Roman ‘prima’ and for the subsequent revival of the Scala, of which Hohenstein personally supervised the scenic realization” (La Dolcissima, p. 73).
"Hohenstein can stand as a father to the Italian poster…His figures were treated with impeccable photographic realism, and colours with a palette of dazzling richness which plays with the effects of light and shade. From the beginning, the boldness of his posters left the French poster artists far behind…With all the flamboyance and excess of the Italian temperament, he played with forms and colours…The virtuosity with which he makes figures emerge from an overloaded frame…They (his posters) all have the same freedom, the same richness of invention in layout and ingenuity of the lettering"(Weill p.84)