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Pullman Gotthard Express | Basel – Milano

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Creator probably William Spencer Bagdatopoulos
Printing year 1927
Sheet size (cm) 100×63.5
Printing technique Lithograph & Intaglio
Printer Art. Institut Orell Füssli
Condition A
Asking price on inquiry
Categories on the tracks | by cable car, Switzerland

A precious and rare original poster from 1927, the heyday of Art Deco, issued by the Swiss Federal Railways to advertise the revived Gotthard Express, which began running between Basel or Zurich and Milan in September 1927.

The cause was the success of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, founded by Belgian Georges Nagelmackers (who was inspired by US pioneer George Pullman) that, in cooperation with the respective state railroads, connected major European cities with its lavish sleeping, salon and restaurant carriages – the epitome of not only luxurious but also fast travel at the time.

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) did not want to stand on the sidelines; on the one hand for reasons of prestige, and on the other to prevent the upper classes from opting for the increasingly popular car. By 1931, however, the global economic crisis had already put an end to the “Swiss Pullman”.

Just how important it was to SBB to attract the sophisticated, affluent clientele is reflected in the motif: Unlike almost all Swiss train posters, there is no scenic beauty to be seen – it is all about elegance and opulence, savoir-vivre and being among oneself. Which brings us to the author: Although the motif is not signed and no single source attributes it to a specific artist, the appealingly elegant style speaks for William Spencer Bagdatopoulos (1888 – 1965), who was born in Greece, grew up there and in the Netherlands and worked mainly in England from 1908 onwards: He designed at least two other posters for Pullman trains, printed in 1927 as well – one of which is also unsigned.