Art Nouveau poster by Vojtěch Preissig, ca 1900
Art Nouveau was popular from about 1880 to World War I and often featured stylized graceful lines, fanciful animals, flowers and beautiful women. The Art Deco movement that spanned the time following World War I up to World War II followed it. Art Deco uses more angles, stronger colors, and more geometric designs.
Preissig was born in northern Bohemia and moved to Prague when he was 11 years old. He studied art and architecture while in Prague. In 1897 he moved to Paris where he worked with a Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha. Much of Preissig’s early work was influenced by Japanese art and symbolism. He moved back to Prague in 1903, started a graphics studio and published a book on etchings and engravings. The graphics studio was not financially successful so he moved to the United States in 1910 where he worked as an art instructor. He taught at Columbia University, the Art Students League of New York, and then taught graphic arts in Boston in 1916 at the Wentworth Institute. He also designed recruitment posters for the United States armed forces.
Preissig and his daughter supported the Czech resistance in both World Wars. He remained in the United States until 1930 and then returned to Europe where he was arrested in 1940 for his work making posters for the resistance. He died 11 June 1944 in Dachau concentration camp.
The envelope came with three Italian stamps.
This stamp features Joseph Petrosino a New York policeman who was a pioneer in fighting organized crime. He had a colorful career and knew several famous people. He went to Sicily on a secret mission to ferret out a long list of Italian criminals who had moved to the United States. The story of his assignment was accidently leaked and in 1909 just after arriving in Palermo, Petrosino was lured into a trap where he was shot to death at age 48.
One stamp honors the women’s championship volley ball team.
The last stamp is very colorful and commemorates the annual Battle of the Oranges a festival held in Ivrea, a city in Northern Italy.
Traditionally oranges, rotten or otherwise, are tossed between organized groups. While the origins of the festival are not clear it is thought to be a reenactment of a historical event from the 12th century. The oranges are in place of the original rocks and weapons that were used in that battle. Rows of orange crates are stacked up along the streets as ammunition for the mock battle. It is called the largest food fight in Italy! The opposing teams dress up for their parts. The stamp shows one team member with orange top and black pants the opposing team member dressed in orange pants and a black & white checked top.
Once again, thank you to my friend for sharing the postcard and the stamps.
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