On November 1st, at Christie’s Auction House in London, a remarkable sale will take place under the banner “Vintage Posters” of 13 original Stenberg brothers film posters from the 1920s and 5 original “maquettes” or mock-up sketches. The Stenbergs fame really is quite prodigious (they had a landmark exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997), and original copies of their posters rarely come up for sale, let alone their original sketches.
The jewels in this crown are the posters for Battleship Potemkin and Man with a Movie Camera, which, according to Christie’s, may never have come up for auction before. Their sales estimates are between $96,000 and $128,000, which would put them among the top 20 most expensive movie posters of all time.
The Man with a Movie Camera poster is a witty and surreal design that explodes with color and movement, and revels in dynamic composition and expressive typography; a poster that conveys what is novel and thrilling about the film it represents and yet creates something entirely new.
Equally fascinating, however, are the Stenberg’s sketches which give us a glimpse of their working methods. In the two maquettes below you can see the grid marked out on the faces—evidence perhaps of the projector they used to sketch directly from film strips.
There is also the Stenberg brothers’ sketch for both The Eyes of Love (1923, credits otherwise unknown), the first poster the Stenbergs ever designed and signed simply “Sten” rather than their trademark “2 Stenberg 2.”, and Victor Sjöström’s Karin Ingmarsdotter (Sweden, 1920).
The other Stenberg posters and sketches going on the block can all be seen below, or at Christie’s in London prior to auction, starting Saturday October 27. All images in this post are courtesy of Christie’s and reproduced with permission.
To continue down the list, there’s the portrait poster with the horizontal bars in orange and browns is for The Big Sorrow of a Small Woman.
This is followed by the poster for A Difficult Role, Negro Operetta (credits unknown, c. 1926), Child of the Market and, featuring the airship, Comrade Airship.
The chequer board design poster is for 1927 Knight’s Move, or as it is sometimes known, The Chess Player.
Then there’s Idol of the Public aka A Small Town Idol (Erle Kenton and Mack Sennett, USA, 1921), Sneaky Operators a.k.a. Danger Ahead (William K. Howard, USA, 1924), and The Child Snatchers, a 1926 Danish comedy starring Carl Schenstrom and Harald Madsen as ‘Pat and Patachon.’
Finally, there’s the Stenberg’s posters for The Policemen, another ‘Pat and Patachon’ comedy (Denmark, 1928), Cafe Fanconi (Mikhail Kapchinsky, USSR, 1927), and their sketch designs for Case Blero (c. 1926), The Son of the Hovel (c. 1927), and Child of the Market (c. 1926).