We are very excited that we have a very rare, original poster for the landmark film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in our live and live online poster auction on November 3, 2012 in San Francisco. The poster is a true gem in that it is a German sheet from Berlin that has never been seen before. Any original materials related to the Caligari film are usually quite expensive and generally impossible to find.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari is a German silent horror movie directed by Robert Wiene, based on a story by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz. It tells the story of the madman Dr. Caligari (played by Werner Krauss) and his devoted, fortune-telling sleepwalker Cesare (Conrad Veidt) and their connection to a string of murders in a German mountain village. The film premiered in February of 1920 in Berlin. It is considered a landmark in silent film history and may be the most influential German expressionist film of all times, famous for its exceptional, wildly distorted stage designs. Caligari’s success had a huge impact on the worldwide image of German film-making after World War I. The movie was banned in Germany in 1933 and became part of the exhibition “Degenerate Art” in 1937.
Only few original posters to the film are known to exist worldwide. In the last 20 years, only two Dr. Caligari posters have been offered for sale – both of them foreign sheets. The poster by Fritz Rotstadt has never appeared on the market and is the only German work known in addition to two posters by Ernst Ludwig Stahl and Otto Arpke.
We believe that Fritz Rotstadt’s real name was Feodor Konstantin Rimsky, born 1898 in Czechoslovakia. Rimsky studied art in Berlin and worked there as an illustrator and graphic designer. After marrying Petra Rotstadt, he changed his name to Fritz Rotstadt. The artist immigrated to the United States in the 1930s and died in 1976. While the data cannot be 100% confirmed, much seems to point to Rimsky.