A Rare, Early Cycling Poster by the "Dean of American Designers"
Fantastic 19th-century bicycle race poster by William Henry Bradley, the highest-paid artist of the first part of the 20th century.
The poster was completed for the Springfield Bicycle Club of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1895, when Bradley was 27 years old.
The impactful composition features three red silhouettes of bikers framed against a background of SBiC emblems against black.
The poster appears to be exceptionally rare on the market. We can find several reproductions but no originals having traded. The Library of Congress has an example of the original as well as a variant with a separate image promoting Victor Bicycles and the credit line of Clark W. Bryan printers below the present image.
William Henry Bradley was an American Art Nouveau illustrator and artist. Nicknamed the "Dean of American Designers" by The Saturday Evening Post, he was the highest paid American artist of the early 20th century.
Bradley set up the Wayside Press, where he served as an illustrator, editor, typographer, designer, and press manager for a magazine he named Bradley, His Book. The periodical usually contained compilations of poetry, stories, and sketches, and his work received a warm reception. He later worked as a consultant for the American Type Founders and as an editor for Collier's Weekly. He worked briefly with children's books, then for William Randolph Hearst's film division as a supervising art director and assistant director on the Wharton Brothers' serial films Beatrice Fairfax (1916) and Patria (1917).
Bradley founded his own production company, Dramafilms, and went on to write, produce and direct his own films, including Bitter Fruit (1920), Moongold (1920) and The Tame Cat (1921). In 1954, The Typophiles published a memoir of Bradley's life called Will Bradley: His Chap Book, a limited edition of 650 copies. The same year, he won the AIGA medal, the highest honor for graphic designers.
He was a prolific artist and designer up until his death at age 94.