Rene Wanner's Poster Page

News: Who designed the poster: Bylityllis or Bagdatopolous ?
April 25, 2009

The catalogue of the coming auction of Poster Auctions International in New York contains a travel poster showing the Howrah Bridge in Calcutta (catalogue nr. 131). The designer is identified from the clearly visible signature as W.S. Bylityllis. Having run across that bridge myself as a young man to catch a train at Howrah station, I checked the Poster Bibliography for biographical information about Byllityllis, but found nothing. I noticed however that the poster has appeared quite often in auctions in recent years, but under two different names: designed by W.S. Bylityllis or William Spencer Bagdatopoulus 1888 - 1965 .

ca. 1930, Visit India, Howrah Bridge Calcutta
Attributed to Bylityllis
  • Poster Auctions International 2009.05.03
  • Joerg Weigelt Aktionen 2008.09.20
  • Posterconnection 2005.11.05
  • Christie's 2003.10.09

    Attributed to Bagdatopoulos
  • Swann Galleries 2007.11.12
  • Christie's 1999.05.27
  • Then I found more posters with the same problem, for example this one:

    ca. 1930, Visit India, The Taj Mahal
    Attributed to Bylityllis
  • Christie's 2007.09.13
  • Christie's 2003.10.09
  • Swann Galleries 2002.11.11

    Attributed to Bagdatopoulos
  • Van Sabben Auctions 2008.05.25
  • Swann Galleries 2008.01.31
  • Christie's 1996.10.03
  • Library of Congress Catalogue POS - Gt Brit .B95, no. 1 (C size) [P&P]
  • The solution of the puzzle is in the Swann Auction catalogue (2007.11.12, catalogue nr. 25): William Bagdatopoulos was born in Greece and grew up in Holland where he studied art and painting. His stylized signature, which looks like "Bylityis" has caused most of his graphic work to be incorrectly attributed. Bagdatopoulos moved to Britain in 1908 and became a fellow of England's Royal Society of Artists. He moved to the United States in 1928, first to Chicago and then settling in Santa Barbara. In addition to his watercolors and paintings, he also designed posters promoting the Indian Railways, the Cunard shipping line, Derry & Toms and other commercial and travel related ventures. A closeup of the signature makes the confusion plausible:

    I now file the poster under Bagdatopoulos and list Byllityllis as a pseudonym. I also applied the simple Google test to check for name frequency and found 135 entries for Bylityllis, and 485 for Bagdatopoulos.

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