After many years our patience has been rewarded! With thanks to Santi Barjau’s blog we have been able to attribute the ‘MPortal’-monogram to a poster designer from Catalonia named Marcel·lí Porta Fernanda. He was born in Barcelona in 1900 or 1903. The joyous Mesopotamian cover for the Babilonia Foxtrot Song appears to be an early work (1928), as most of his other known creations are from the Thirties or later, such as his anti-fascist poster ‘Feixisme No!’ from 1938. Too little is known about the life and work of this artist, but he appears to have been actively involved in the Republican movement with his publication of posters, caricatures, cartoons and illustrations for satirical magazines.
As many of his compatriots at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 he was forced to exile from his native country, never to come back. He stayed for some time in Montpellier and migrated to Mexico City in 1942. In his new country Porta would be active for many years illustrating books and magazines, worked as a painter and even designed murals. Marcel·lí Porta died without leaving family in Mexico City in 1959 (or 1979 according to other sources).
Carlo Innocenzi is a wonderful man. He died in Rome in 1962 but is still very much alive. Firstly, there are his art-deco covers which he designed for popular Italian songs: they keep you happy all day long.
Secondly, as a trained violist and composer he launched several popular songs of his own, a.o. ‘Il primo amore‘ and ‘Prigoniero di un Sogno‘. Part of this success was due to the lyrics by Marcella Rivi, nom de plume of Sonia Pearlwing (1910-1981), the woman he promptly maried. In the late 1930s he started working for Italian cinema and was hardly able to stop: he composed more than 150 songs and scores for the screen.
But in the third place, Innocenzi is still amongst us because in the Umbrian town where he was born in 1899, Monteleone di Spoleto, a street band named Corpo Bandistico Carlo Innocenzi brings his name and memory very much aLIVE.
The lovely lady on the cover is enjoying a glass of asti spumante, a sparkling white Italian wine from Piemonte. The sheet music was published around 1914.
Thanks to Michael Hölters, an art history student at the university of Vienna we were able to identify the monogram of the artist as belonging to Marianne Hitschmann-Steinberger. She was an Austrian Jewish artist who studied with Adolf Böhm and Friedrich König (both members of the Vienna Secession). She is mainly known as bookplate (ex libris) artist and illustrator of children’s books and postcards. In 1919 she died at the age of 32 of pneumonia in the flu pandemic, followed three days later by the death of her husband.
In the ex libris, she created for her husband, you can clearly see the typical emphasis of Jugendstil on two-dimensional linear design. And she was influenced by Japonism as made clear by this drawing and by the beautiful picture of her in a kimono-style dress.