Air France, celebrating its 81st birthday this week, is known for commissioning some of the most prolific poster artists of the 20th Century. Lucien Boucher, Bernard Villemot, and Jean Carlu are among the most well-known. Many iconic images from the golden age of travel are Air France advertising pieces.
Founded in a 1933 merger, Air France has long flown to some of the most remote corners of the globe. The company used stark images to lure travelers to exotic locations in Africa and Asia, among others.
Originally mail routes, the fledgling airlines of the early period of aviation used lavish ad campaigns to compete for the tourist dollar.
Many of the early posters include the Air France logo: the winged sea horse. The image is often mixed in creatively with aviation imagery. Air France posters are often labeled Perceval, the printer in Paris who executed some of the best lithography seen in travel posters of the era.
The collector market has placed a premium on pricing of Air France posters. A rare, over-sized and heretofore unknown “Planisphere” map poster by Lucien Boucher recently sold for $30,000. PosterConnection is offering another iconic Boucher piece in its poster sale on October 25, 2014 in San Francisco. Here, Boucher captured the mystery of the Far East with a Lockheed Constellation flying into an incredible red field of eastern images and a dragon-like figure.
Air France poster designs often include hidden imagery such as the outline of France in the clouds or a dove holding a city while in flight. While many Air France posters feature foreign locales, the Eiffel Tower figures prominently in Air France ad campaigns and has been beautifully rendered in dozens of images. See The Eiffel Tower turns 125.
Air France posters, which feature unique images and rich lithography, have become a lasting and valued part of aviation art history.
We want to thank Matt L. for contributing this article to our blog. Matt is a poster friend and collector who is particularly interested in vintage travel posters.
October 7, 2014