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.
Robert Laroche is a wonderful illustrator. Dreamy women, sensual decorations, amazing flowers, pistachio and fuchsia colours, elegant typography, languorous couples, typical ink speckles to produce half-tones… one can pick out a Laroche design rather easily. During the Parisian 1920s, Laroche worked mainly for music publishers Max Eschig and Smyth.
We are happy that the scientific committee at Images Musicales 😉 has unanimously accepted the iconographic evidence to include the above, and five more covers signed ‘LR‘, to the artistic work of Robert Laroche. Hereunder we share with you a potpourri of the graphic arguments…
This cover by Roger de Valerio represents a caricature of the French singer, composer and lyricist Léonce Paco. He created some songs for the Montmartre cabaret ‘La Pie qui Chante’ but little else is known about his life. In the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, we found a picture of him being assisted by Georges Cochon and his fédération des locataires. Apparently Léonce Paco was having trouble with his landlord.
Georges Cochon was an anarchist and maybe the first squatter ever. He was very popular in the years before the First World War when cheap, decent lodgings were hard to find. Georges Cochon founded a tenants union (Syndicat des Locataires) and was, like a kind of Robin Hood, always ready to assist people being evicted by their landlord. According to The New York Times he moved poor (large) families out of their lodgings on which the rent was overdue so quickly that the landlords couldn’t get papers executed to seize the furniture. He then moved them into any other place available. And if he couldn’t find lodgings, he created them in empty houses or buildings.
Furthermore, to draw attention to his cause, he was the author of hundreds of playful protests. For example, he and his union erected a shack in the Parisian Jardin des Tuileries. On a banner one could read ‘House with garden donated by the Union of Tenants to a homeless family of 10, chased by their landlord and abandoned by the Public Assistance.’ Thanks to his protests public opinion changed and housing and renting conditions became more human.
Georges Cochon was a welcome subject in the Parisian Cafés Chantants. In our collection Images Musicales we have two songs sympathising with Georges Cochon: ‘Donnez des Logements’ and ‘C’est Cochon !’. The cover of the first song shows his picture and cartoons of overprized poor lodgings. The cover of the second song illustrates his strategy to move the furniture of tenants with overdue rent on pushcarts, so that their furniture could not be confiscated. Both are illustrated by the same artist E. Muller. So far we have found no information about this illustrator.