Andy Warhol – Remarkable, Rare Shoe Portfolio
18 hand-coloured offset lithographs with captions – £200,000 for the set.
Peter Harrington Gallery are selling a complete set of Andy Warhol’s iconic shoe portfolio, A La Recherche Du Shoe Perdue, with an early trial cover on which his mother, Julia Warhola, misspelled “Recherche” as “Pecherche”. This portfolio which is in excellent condition was produced in 1955 and was a collaboration between Warhol and the poet Ralph Pomery. It contains 17 hand-coloured lithograph portraits of shoes plus the cover, which are all presented in grey wooden frames. Each of the individual shoe portraits has its own character and is accompanied by a ‘shoe poem’ or caption by Pomery, lettered by Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola.
Kevin Finch of Peter Harrington Gallery says “This is a beautiful, charming, playful collection of prints which blends high and low culture and is a testament to Warhol’s love of shoes and the inspiration they afforded his work.”
The prints are currently on display at Peter Harrington, 100 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 6HS.
Andy Warhol’s early career was as a commercial artist and illustrator and one of his first commissions was to produce shoe illustrations for Glamour magazine. The art director Tina Fredericks allegedly had to explain to him that it was not necessary to represent the shoes with so much personality, but rather to show them unworn. Warhol later remembered: “When I used to do shoe drawings for the magazines, I would get a certain amount for each shoe, so then I would count up my shoes to figure out how much I was going to get. I lived by the number of shoe drawings – when I counted them I knew how much money I had.” (Simon Doonan,
In 1955 he was commissioned to produce weekly ads for the shoe manufacturer I. Miller to run in the New York Times. This was a financially and artistically lucrative project for Warhol and this self-published shoe portfolio was produced at the same time.
The shoes themselves are full of character and range across time periods. The collection’s title both echoes Proust’s À la recherché du temps perdu and calls to mind the popular fairy tale Cinderella. This light-hearted allusion continues in Pomery’s captions, which mimic the copy of an advertisement with references to Gertrude Stein (‘The autobiography of Alice B. Shoe’), Shakespeare (‘To shoe or not to shoe’) and popular sayings (‘You can lead a shoe to water but you can’t make it drink’), amongst others.
While the captions are printed in Julia Warhola’s distinctive hand, the title on the cover is hand-written in ink and reads ‘A La Pecherche [sic] du Shoe Perdu…’. This mistake may indicate that this particular portfolio is one of the earlier ones Warhola titled. The lithographs were privately printed in New York and the sheets then hand-coloured using Dr. Martin’s aniline watercolor dye by Warhol and his friends at his ‘coloring parties’. This portfolio also contains one extra double sized illustration of a boot with no caption (a boot of the same style was used by Warhol for a separate work, ‘Gee, Merrie Shoes’ for an exhibition at the Bodley Gallery in New York the following year).
This delightful portfolio is rare as not all surviving portfolios have a complete set of all the plates, and many do not include the larger boot plate.
The print business at Peter Harrington was started over 40 years ago and today Peter Harrington Gallery have an enviable number of rare and signed, modern and contemporary prints for sale at their shop in the Fulham Road, London. High quality signed prints offer an exciting and affordable way to own the works of well-known artists and Peter Harrington Gallery have many beautifully framed prints available with prices starting from less than £1,000.