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SPORTS ANTIQUE 

OF THE WEEK

Feb. 22nd-28th 2009

Standout items 

by SportsAntiques.com

 

Tonik_Polo_close_in.JPG (39074 bytes)

Circa 1900 

Tonik Polo Advertising Poster

63 3/4 inches wide by 48 inches tall - framed

collection of author

This exceptional poster was illustrated by 

C.H. Beauvais, and is one of only two known examples. 

The other being in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. (National Library of France)

 

Profile

by

Carlton Hendricks

 

TONIK POLO

Advertising Poster

 

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TONIK POLO 2ND CROP.jpg (79718 bytes)

 

2/21/09 Please note - New biographical information has been received on the artist of the poster

click here

_______________________________

 

11/21/09 Further biographical information has been received on the artist of the poster

click here

 

VINTAGE : Circa 1890

DIMENSIONS : 46 3/8 inches wide X 30 3/8 inches tall, unframed * including frame: 63 3/4 inches wide X 48 inches tall

ARTIST : Charles Henri Beauvais 1862-1909

PRINTING FIRM : Moullot Fils Ainé

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN : France

PRINTING TYPE : Chromolithograph

PRINTED ON : Paper

MOUNTED ON : Paper

COLORS : Red, Yellow, Blue, Green

CONDITION : Very Good

RARITY : Extremely Rare

 

 

I purchased this poster at the San Francisco International Poster Fair in the early 1990's from a poster dealer named  Eric Leyton of Artafax. Eric told me he had purchased it eight days earlier in Brussels, out of a collection there. After I got it, the poster underwent conservation treatment for mounting and repair of some parallel cuts at the top and some water stains.

 

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To understand the Tonik Polo poster is to understand, essentially; the the finest polo poster ever produced. The poster was produced in France at the turn of the 19th century. It was illustrated by Charles Henri  Beauvais and was printed by the Moullot Fils Ainé printing firm, which had locations in Paris and Marseille. 

 

Of the thousands of color illustrated posters generated worldwide between 1880 and 1930, less than about a dozen of any merit were produced which depicted the sport of polo. Of these, none come near Tonik Polo's sterling quality.

 

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Like any graphic illustration, the whole of Tonik Polo is made up of revarious design elements. The cornerstone of these elements is the realistic art style it is rendered in; as opposed to a more impressionistic style; more common of posters it's period. This realistic style is the tie that binds the other elements; color, subject, details, scale, depth, and text. The poster's artist, C.H. Beauvais demonstrated masterful ability in his order of these; deftly applying each with intuitive precision to the other. 

 

Beauvais captured the pageantry and era of the game with such a fun, close up, larger than life poignancy that no richer depiction of polo for commercial use could likely exist. 

 

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If an outline were drawn around the four horses and riders, a horizontal oval would be seen in the center of the poster. Such structure implies principled training. Within this depiction, curious details are seen. The handsome features of the polo players suggest those of Mediterranean heritage. They're identical handlebar mustaches identify them as a fashionable preference of the era. The four horses, individually in brown, dark brown, white and speckled gray, are portrayed in the midst of competition from varied angles, while the green of the polo field provides good visual contrast. Correct costuming, including pill box caps with insignias on front, white jodhpur riding breeches, and squared mallet heads; speak to the period. Further details such as the players jerseys in customary club colors, correct bridles, stirrups, saddle straps and support straps around the players boot leggings add further visual tangibility to the scene.

 

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In the classic tradition of polo matches of the period, a large red and white striped tent can be seen in the distance with a long stream of spectators looking on. A forest of teal trees across the center provides excellent balance to the picture. The finale to the celebration is set above, in which Beauvais has captured the brief interlude of a sunset; the teal shade of the trees providing perfect contrast to a sky drenched in sun-burst yellow, streaked with red.

 

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The poster's text layout and design are consistent with the boldness and realism of it's illustration; big, direct and eye-catching. At top center, huge red letters announce the product....POLO. Below the polo match scene, a blue band provides background for the product's full title with ingredients below; a tonic of quinine and cola nut. His job nearly complete, Beauvais concludes with the unique finishing touch of white bands across each corner with POLO in black text.

 

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The circumstances and influences of how Tonik Polo came to be produced remain a mystery, and are subject to interesting speculation. The details of the players costuming, tack, competitive action, and scenery make it appear Beauvais studied an actual polo match and players. The height and amount of trees in the background seem quite specific, as if based on an actual local studied; presumably in France where the poster was produced. On page 310 of the 1902 edition of his book “Modern Polo”, E.D. Miller, Captain of England's 17th Lancers at the time, provided the following account of the early days of polo in France:

 

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“Mr. Rene Raoul Duval, who fell in love with the game when he was staying with the 7th Hussars in India, started polo in Paris in 1892 with a few other keen sportsmen, and an international tournament took place the following year. The early pioneers of polo in France were the three brothers Raoul Duval, Prince de Poix, Vicomte de la Rouchefoucauld, Duc de Luynes, M. Boussod, Marquis de Villaviega and his two brothers

E. and P. d'Escandon, Luis d'Errauz, Baron le Jeune, Baron E.

de Rothschild, and a few others, nearly all of whom are still playing vigorously. Polo is played five days a week during the Paris season, and there is no pleasanter place in or near the gay city than the charming little club-house and grounds at Bagatelle on the Slopes of the Bois. Taking a polo team for the week between the Grand Prix and the big steeplechase at Auteuil is a most delightful experience. An international tournament then takes place ; amusment succeeds amusment with startling rapidity, and the hospitality accorded to the English polo players is most cordial in every possible way. Many of the French players are well known on English grounds, our most frequent visitors being the Escandon's, Duval's, Baron Rothschild and L. de Errazu. The Comte de Madre cannot now be regarded as a visitor, for he has taken up his residence in Rugby. There are also grounds at Ferriéres, Baron Rothschild's home, which has a perfect ground. An annual tournament is held at Deauville in the Autumn. The French Cavalry officers have lately started for themselves a club near Paris, where they play together with great keenness.”

 

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Captain Miller's description of the “grounds at Bagatelle on the slopes of the Bois” are most interesting since the boise de Boulogne is a forested area, and Bagatelle was essentially the center of French polo then, and therefore may well have been the location Beauvais used as a model for Tonik Polo. Further, Captain Miller describes it as “no pleasenter place in or near the gay city” , a description consistent with what we see in the background of Tonik Polo.

 

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The facial features of the players on the white horse on the left, and the dark brown horse at the front, seem similar enough to be brothers. They're facial definition appears too unique to be unintentional ; as if rendered after actual players Beauvais saw or knew; perhaps purposefully placing notable individuals in his illustration. Captain Miller indicates Mr. Rene Raoul Duval was responsible for bringing polo to France; and points out that his two brothers were pioneers of the game there as well. Captain Miller also mentions three other brothers who were pioneers; Marquis de Villaviega and his two brothers E. and P. d'Escandon.

 

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Who owned the Tonic Polo Company, and how long it existed are interesting questions. Producing Tonic water requires specific technical skill, mechanical equipment and considerable financial backing. According to Mr. Douglas Simmons in his book “Schweppes” The First 200 years , tonic water was apparently popular in France by at least 1878 and Schweppes tonic waters won the

highest award at the International Exhibition in Paris that year. 

 

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A reasonable consideration as to how the name Tonik Polo was chosen might be that someone who played the game; developed a unique tonic for his personal consumption and decided to market it, and named it after his pastime; capitalizing on it's glamor and sophistication. We know from the text on the poster that the ingredients of Tonik Polo, quinine and cola nuts, were apparently unique enough to utilize as advertising. It's reasonable to consider one of the noblemen mentioned by Captain Miller as the pioneers of polo in France, could have been the proprietor of Tonik Polo.

 

The poster appears to have been rendered toward the end of what has been called the Golden Age of the Poster, 1890-1900. Chromolithography and poster production had essentially been  perfected by then in France; the birthplace of the color illustrated poster; and from which the poster originates.

 

EPILOGUE

  

Over one hundred years later, Tonik Polo is still a striking exhibit of how a polo poster should look. We don't know the latitude and discretion Beauvais was given by his employer, the Tonik Polo proprietor, but we certainly know he executed the objective of any advertising poster, he drew attention; and it was tasteful, dignified and orderly, yet very exciting; but most of all it was handsome; so much so that it is one of the worlds best depictions of polo ever rendered and takes it's place at the pinnacle of polo posters; and among the worlds finest polo art and antiques.

 

Posted 2/21/09

- Addenda -

Please note we have received previously unknown biographical information on the artist of Tonik Polo, C.H. Beauvis from his great-granddaughter, see below

 

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Feb. 21, 2009

NEW BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

RECEIVED ON 

CHARLES HENRI BEAUVAIS

FROM HIS GREAT GRANDAUGHTER

Ms. Annette Seriau of London

 

CLICK PHOTO

c1910 

TONIK POLO ADVERTISING POSTER

by Charles Henri Beauvais 1862-1909

63 3/4 inches wide by 48 inches tall - framed

Collection of Carlton Hendricks

 

2/21/09

The Tonik Polo poster is in my opinion the finest polo poster extant and I have already written a detailed profile of it quite some time ago. However, a new dimension of it's history has been uncovered. 

This week the great granddaughter of Charles Henri 

Beauvais, the artist who produced Tonik Polo, emailed me. Ms. Annette Seriau of London provided me new and previously unknown biographical information on her great grandfather, as well as a photo of a painting of him. Below, our exchange. -Carlton

 

Dear Mr Hendricks
I have been researching my family tree recently on the Beauvais side of our family. My Great Grandfather was Charles Henri Beauvais, a lithographer and artist. I was surfing on the net trying to find examples his commercial work, and up popped your Tonik Polo poster (I also found a couple of his other works - One called 'La Micheline' which has been reproduced as a poster).

I thought that you might appreciate a bit of information about the artist:

Charles Henri Beauvais was born in Marseille in 1862. He came to live and work in London in about 1881 as a lithographer. It was in London that he met my Great Grandmother Emily Anne. They had six children. Around about 1902 - 3 he moved himself and all his family back to France, back to his hometown, Marseille where he set up a studio. Sadly, he died in 1909. His widow returned to London. Several of his children and grandchildren inherited his artistic talents.

Feel free to contact me if you need any other information.

Regards, 

Annette 

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Hello Annette,
Thank you very much for writing! Boy it is very exciting to get your email...That's very interesting he was a lithographer in London. Naturally that tells that he understood the technical process of lithography. In turn that implies he would have been better able than the average illustrator to anticipate the finished product as he illustrated Tonik Polo. It sounds like he was well rounded in the lithography world. Perhaps this grasp and familiarity of the lithography process would have lent its self to an ability to draw the original Tonik Polo illustration directly onto the stone, as opposed to making a painting first then copying the painting onto the stone. Moreover, since your great grandfather came from France to London about 1881 and worked as a lithographer there until 1902-3, naturally he would have exposed to and influenced by English illustrators for the twenty years he was there. It's been a long while since I studied Tonik Polo, but I believe I recall recognizing a marked difference in it's realistic style to the impressionistic one far more commonly used by the French of that period. It's all just interesting speculation of course.

As for more speculation; France was the birthplace of lithography. Perhaps a London lithographer in need of French expertise, persuaded your youthful 19 year old great grandfather with to come to come work for them in London with an enticing salary....or perhaps he was just adventurous.....At any rate we know he wasn't married, and it would have been easier to recruit a single person with no ties. Right about 1902-3 was when chromolithography was about finished and more advanced printing techniques had begun to take over....so that may have been why he returned to France. You say he opened a "studio" in Marseille. Do you know if he owned the printing firm of Moullot Fils Ainé? Which is the firm that printed Tonik Polo. According to babelfish Fils Ainé means oldest son....or perhaps the interpretation was "Moullot and son"

Since he was born in 1862, he would have been about 40 years old when he returned to France...and was probably seasoned veteran of the lithography business by then. It sounds like Tonik Polo was produced after he returned to France in 1902-3. Moreover it sounds like he returned with an English wife and 6 essentially English children. 

Do you have any photos of him? Please keep me posted on any new developments. This is very interesting! I'm attaching a photo of a post card your great grandfather did. I picked it up within the last couple years at a paer show. Interestingly the post card indicates the Moullot concern as only being in Marseille...but the Tonik Polo poster indicates it in Marseille and Paris...which indicates expansion. 
Kindly, Carlton

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frontpc.jpg (739121 bytes) backpc.jpg (779567 bytes) Marseille&Paris.JPG (665695 bytes)

Postcard by 

C.H. Beauvais

Back of 

postcard 

Lithographers on 

Tonik Polo

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Dear Carlton,
I was good to hear back from you so quickly. 

I have found no connection to the Moullot printing firm, other than that all the examples of my Great Grandfather's commercial work that I have been able to find (on the net) were printed by them.

I have had another thought. Perhaps my Great Grandfather got to see some polo matches in or around London, as I believe the game was played here before being exported to France. It was a big thing in the Victorian days for people to go out for a day to see the races, so perhaps they also went to see polo matches too. He also had a English brother in law who was involved in the horse trade in some way. This brother in law also moved to France and settled in Paris.

I am sending you a photo of a portrait of C.H. Beauvais, painted by his daughter (my grandmother) when she was around about the age of 20. I have also a copy of one of his business cards showing his Marseille address.

Kind regards
Annette Seriau
London

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Painting of Charles Henri Beauvais by his daughter

 

Business card

 

 

 

Nov. 21st 2009

ADDENDA II

In February 2009 I was fortunate enough to receive correspondence from the great grand daughter of Charles Henri Beauvais providing biographical background on him.

 

In June 2009 I received further background on Charles Henri Beauvais from Ann Beauvias, the widow of his grandson Walter John Beauvais. After reviewing the profiles below of Charles Henri's two sons Arnold and Charles, and Charles' son Walter you will see the artistic lineage the Beauvias family is remarkable. Among a throng of meritorious artistic accomplihsments by all three, Arnold was elected president of the London Sketch Club in 1936! Collectivly all the information in the profiles clearly point to a strong genetic predisposition for art by Charles Henri. Below is the email I received from Ann Beauvais.

 

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Dear Carlton,

I read your profile on the Tonik Polo Advertising poster by C H Beauvais with great interest and also the biographical information from Annette. My late husband Walter John Beauvais was the grandson of Charles Henri Beauvais and the son of artist Arnold Beauvais. I have enclosed a biography of Arnold written in 1975 which gives additional information on Charles Henri.

Arnold died at the age of 98 and is listed in many books including "Dictionary of British Artists" by Grant M Waters. Walter's profile is enclosed and further information can be found in "Who"s Who in Art. Arnold children and grandchildren have all been involved in art or in music. My son Paul Beauvais is an artist, living and working in New Zealand.

Arnold's brother Charles Frederick Beauvais went to live in Australia in 1937. He had a very interesting life involved in design, from cars to futuristic cities. His profile is enclosed, but more details can be found at the Power House Museum in Sydney.

I hope this is of interest to you.

Kind regards

Ann Beauvais

 

Biographical Profiles of Heirs of Tonic Polo Poster Artist 

CHARLES HENRI BEAUVAIS

Arnold Beauvais

1886-1994

Son of 

Charles Henri Beauvais

Charles Frederick Beauvais

1900-1960

Son of 

Charles Henri Beauvais

Walter 

John 

Beauvais

1942-1998

Son of 

Arnold Beauvais

click profile below click profile below click profile below
Arnold Beauvais.jpg (422168 bytes) Charles Frederick Beauvais.jpg (866825 bytes) Walter John Beauvais.jpg (271218 bytes)

 

Impressionistic paintings of 

Walter John Beauvais

JohnWalterBauvaisBaloons.jpg (27252 bytes) JohnWalterBeauvaisBeach2.jpg (25802 bytes) WalterJohnBeauvais_HenleyRegatta.jpg (13252 bytes)

 

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