Category Archives: Collecting

Browse for Gondola Prows

‘Belle Italie’ by Ludo Langlois and L. Frings, published by L’Art Belge (Bruxelles, 1928) and illustrated by Peter De Greef.

Without the post from Olivier Castel we would never have paid attention to the shape of the gondola prow. Browsing our collection for gondolas —while keeping a sharp eye out for the fero da provathe image created by Peter De Greef for ‘Belle Italiecaught our attention. A small covered cabin, the felze, offers privacy to a smooching couple. Although stylised, the representation of the iron bow is like it should be. De Greef clearly passes the bow test.

‘A kiss in the dark’ by Victor Herbert published by Salabert (Paris, 1922) and illustrated by Roger De Valerio.

From the creative energy of another giant of illustration, Roger de Valerio, emerged a similar powerful image of luxurious intimacy under a cloak of Venetian darkness. De Valerio probably didn’t care about the exact morphology of the iron bow: three teeth are missing.

In my Gondola‘ by Harry Warren & Dud Green. Left: published by Shapiro, Bernstein, & Co. (New York, 1926). Right: published by Salabert (Paris, 1927) and illustrated by de Valerio.

For the song ‘In my Gondola’ the original American cover shows a comic-like and anecdotal scene in a stereotypical Venice. In de Valerio’s modernistic version on the other hand the calm composition and the rhythm of the repetitive boats make a check of their mandatory curves and number of teeth irrelevant.

Photographs of ‘ferri di prova’ with four and five teeth. Ca 1900. Source: Wikipedia.

Besides, photographs from around 1900 show us gondolas with four or five teeth, so we can’t really blame de Valerio for not drawing the usual six.

‘Scheint der mond auf Venedig’ by Max Geiger, published by Wiener Bohème – Verlag (Wien, 1930) and Illustrated by Otto Dely.

Venezia, Venise, Venedig, where the full moon ever watches courtship. Otto Dely, another colossus in illustration land, depicts this romantic idyll for ‘Scheint der Mond auf Venedig‘…, with an almost perfect bow!

Some illustrators though were wide of the mark when trying to render a Venetian gondola. Next follows our short compilation of these faux pas.

Olivier Castel rightly insisted on the distortion of the bows drawn by Leon Pousthomis. We found another example in our collection, where the stern of the gondola much resembles the Loch Ness Monster emerging from the Venetian laguna.

Sobre las olas‘ by Juventino Rosas, published by Galeries Parisiennes de Musique (Paris, s.d.). Cover illustration by Leon Pousthomis.

One should think Italians did know how to draw a gondola, or didn’t they? Oops, the fero on the prow is twisted inwards!

‘Notturnino Veneziano’ by G. Lagorio, published by Fratelli Franchi (Rome, 1927) and illustrated by Monni (illegible).

The unknown Spanish illustrator of ‘Morir de Amor‘ moved the ornamental fero from the bow to the stern of the boat, added a practical hole in it, and drew only two teeth. A fiasco, though good points for colourfulness and romance.

‘Morir de Amor’ by Ch. Schumann, published by Ch. Schumann (1920).

La Barcarolle‘ scores okay for the full moon, but stern and bow of the gondola are the same: zero points.

‘La Barcarolle’ by Emile Waldteufel, published by Hopwood & Crew (London, s.d.).

And if you can’t make head nor tail of the Venetian gondola, then simply drop the prova. No need for realism to draw a striking image, isn’t it Paul Telemann?

Left: ‘Gondolieren’ by Jose Armandola, published by Edition Accord (Berlin, 1922). Right: ‘Barbitonia’ by Max Rhode, published by Otto Wrede (Berlin,1920) both illustrated by Paul Telemann.

At last, a dishonourable mention goes to illustrator Capitan for his drawing of a pitiful gondola bow for Je connais ton pays. The full moon is not at the romantic rendezvous, but we imagine the ultimate Venetian stereotype of the boy passionately singing O sole mio, as it is often offered to tourists enjoying a gondola ride in Venice though it is a Neapolitan song. In the eighties tourist officials even ordered gondoliers to stop crooning O sole mio because it is not Venetian. Naples reacted by sending a group of strolling musicians to Venice to make sure tourists had their fair share of Neapolitan melodies.

Illustrated cover of the sheet music 'Je connais ton pays'
Je connais ton pays‘, a barcarolle by Albert Petit, Villemer & Delormel, published by Nouveau Répertoire des Concerts de Paris (s.d.) and illustrated by O. Capitan.

It’s now or never, thinks The King.

Mysterious Phenomena In Illustrated Sheet Music – Part 4

Detective-rag‘ by Erm. Oisorak. Published by Rob Rosewelt (New York, s.d.). Illustration signed with monogram SM.

We need the assistance of the finest detectives to investigate our next round of mysteries. How did they do it? What were their motives? Did illustrators and publishers concoct their misdeeds together? Were some of the printers accomplices? How did they get away with it?
We will not rest until the last puzzling enigma has been explained.

The Gaucho Lookalike

Y… Como le va?‘ Tango Argentino by Juan Valverde. Left: published by Edition Estic – Stadium des Arts (Paris, 1909). Right: published by Casa Dotésio (Madrid, 1912). Unknown illustrator.

Less is More? Ehm… More or Less

sheet music cover for 'Die kleine Fischerin' by Ludolf Waldmann
Die kleine Fischerin‘ by Ludolf Waldmann. LEFT: published by L. Waldmann (Berlin, s.d.) – source Indiana University. RIGHT: published by J. Kasteel (Den Haag, s.d.). Unknown illustrator.

The Theft of the Trumpet and Other Things

sheet music cover for Madame Gaspard illustrated by Caban
LEFT: ‘Madame Gaspard‘ by Bachmann. RIGHT: ‘Je n’ai qu’un Chat !‘ by Emile Spencer and Jorge Fabri. Both published by Georges Ondet (Paris, s.d.) and illustrated by Ch. Caban.

The Georgette Impersonation

Illustrated sheet music. Cover by Wohlman and Robert Laroche.
Georgette‘ by Ray Henderson & Lew Brown. LEFT: published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co (New York, 1922), illustrated by Wohlman. RIGHT: published by Smyth (Paris, 1922) and illustrated by Robert Laroche.

The Metamorphosic Seduction

Sheet music cover for 'Good Night'
Good Night‘ by Leo Wood, Irving Bibo and Con Conrad. LEFT: published by Francis, Day & Hunter (London, 1923). RIGHT: published by Leo Feist (New York, 1923). Unknown illustrators.

We close this post with another Good Night puzzle, the one sung by Ringo Starr on The Beatles’ white album. Is it a plain sentimental lullaby or rather a campy spoof?

Now it’s time to say good night
Good night sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine
Good night sleep tight
Now the moon begins to shine
Good night sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine
Good night sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Good night good night everybody
Everybody everywhere
Good night.

Mysterious Phenomena In Illustrated Sheet Music – Part 3

Enchantement‘ composed by Jules Massenet, poetry written by Jules Ruelle, and published in ‘Au Ménestrel’ (Paris, ca 1890). Cover illustration by Eugène Grasset.

Welcome back to the enchanting world of printing and publishing. Share with us the quizzical differences, variations or nuances in what could (should?) have been similar copies of sheet music covers. Sometimes these design incidents defy our imagination in how they lead to incongruity, comical twist or hilarious plagiarism. We have invented nothing. Do your own research: have a look, scrutinize and double check!

The grass is always greener on the other print

Das ist das alte Lied von jungen Leuten‘ by Jean Gilbert, Fritz Grünbaum, and Wilhelm Sterk. Both edition published by Rondo Verlag (Berlin, 1922) and illustrated by Wolfgang Ortmann.

The monocle and the shifty eyes

E arrivato l’Ambasciatore!‘, operette by Ettore Bellini, published by Fratelli Curci (Napoli, 1921) and illustrated by L. Pagano.

The trick with the husband

Sheet music covers designed by Leo Baill
LEFT: ‘On n’s’en fout pas‘ by L. Cadin and Arlet Nandem, published at Gaspy Editions (Bruxelles, s.d.). RIGHT: ‘Senorita‘ tango by Jac. Grit with lyrics by Herre De Vos, published by Edition Jacques Polfliet (Bruxelles, s.d.). Both covers designed by Leo Baill.

The exchangeable dance floors

LEFT: ‘Dancing Tambourine‘ by William C. Polla, published by Salabert (Paris, 1927) – copyright Harms (New York, 1927). RIGHT: ‘Ich hab’ zu Haus ein Grammophon‘ by Karel Hasler & Jara Benes, lyrics by Beda. Published by Wiener Boheme Verlag (Vienna, s.d.), source: https://www.notenmuseum.de – Unknown illustrator.

The fairy tale makeover

Rotkäppchen!‘ by Hermann Wenzel, published by Fr. Portius (Leipzig, 1928 (on the left) and s.d. (right)). Unknown illustrator.

The world of enchantment, fantasy, bold imagination and daring fascination… I think I have a little idea on how to musically end this short post.

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