Artist:Louis Rhead
Medium:Gouache/Watercolor on Illustration Board
Dimensions:Sight Size 13" x 13" Framed 28" x 28"
Original Use:Presumably Illustration Art for Poster Design
Price:S O L D
Above: Framed and matted in beautiful period wide ornate gesso frame
Above: View of Thanksgiving-themed gouache

Grapefruit Moon Gallery is proud to offer the second of several original John Louis Rhead Art Nouveau/Belle Epoque-era illustrations, recently acquired from a New York Estate. This large Thanksgiving Harvest goddess colorful and stylized image is titled November in pencil by the artist on the lower margin. The work is matted and framed in a large period gesso frame. An astonishing and rare surviving document from this American poster master. Rhead's work appeared alongside Alphonse Mucha, Jules Cheret and Toulouse Latrec pieces in Les Maîtres de l'Affiche (Masters of Posters) folios at the turn of the last century.

Above: The artist's signature and frame detail lower left
Above: Title in lower center margin
Above: Another view
Above: Detail

John Louis Rhead was a noted illustrator during the Golden Age of Illustration. Born into a family of well-known English artists, Louis Rhead was sent to Paris at the age of thirteen to study under Boulanger. Returning to England several years later, he continued his studies under Edward Pointer and Alphonse Legros. He later emigrated to New York where he spent most of his career. There he was a member of the Architectural League, and the New York Watercolor Society. He also exhibited work at the Paris Salon.

When Rhead visited Paris in his formative years he became good friends with Eugene Grasset, the famous French art nouveau master, and was deeply influenced by him. Along with Will Bradley and Edward Penfield, Louis Rhead was in the forefront of the American art nouveau movement. Rhead created lithographic posters for both Century and Scribner's. Rhead also was honored with one-man exhibitions of his work in France, England and the United States.

Above: An early original photograph of Louis Rhead enjoying his other passion

Though best known for his illustration art and fine-art paintings, Rhead also was proficient in etching and ceramic design. A broad thinker, he even manufactured fly fishing lures, which are hotly collected today. He and his equally talented brother, George Wooliscroft Rhead, collaborated on editions of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Among the many books Louis Rhead illustrated are Swiss Family Robinson, Gulliver's Travels and Treasure Island. Although Rhead illustrated many childrens books and novels, he is most beloved as a master of design. His striking work was often based on daring colour schemes, flat tints and few lines, which he managed to combine with surprising harmony. Rhead's original paintings are very scarce and his original posters, like all the work of the best art nouveau artists including Alphonse Mucha, command great attention to this day.

Here are a few other examples of Louis Rhead cover and poster designs in a belle-epoque, Alphonse Mucha stylized art nouveau aesthetic. Original pen & ink works and watercolors by this artist are very scarce.


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