Do you buy Chateau Mouton Rothschild for the label?

As a graphic designer I will often give a bottle of wine a try simply because I like the art of the label - and I occasionally find a great wine in a pretty bottle. The wines of Chateau Mouton Rothschild take both the buying of wine and the art on the label to an entirely different level.

Recently the CBS Sunday Morning program had a wonderful piece on the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the Sotheby's sale of wines from her private cellar (where a Jeroboam - an oversized bottle - of 1945 Mouton sold for $260,000!), and the incredible collection of art that has graced the labels of the wine each year since 1945. A show of the paintings on which the labels are based, which has traveled the world for 25 years, was a part of the Sotheby's event, complete with a ceremony to unveil the Prince Charles watercolor label that will decorate the 2004 vintage. More about the television show segment can be read at Wine And Art Meet At Mouton Estate.

Baroness de Rothschild explained to Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood that her father, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, put the family in the wine business in 1922, and was the first to put fine art on a wine bottle when commissioned the artist Jean Carlu to design a label in 1924. That particular piece of art is considered a landmark work in Cubist commercial art.

In 1945, to celebrate the end of World War II, de Rothschild commissioned the young painter Philippe Jullian to produce a graphic design based on the "V" sign made famous by Winston Churchill during the war. Each year since then the work of an artist has been selected for the Chateau Mouton Rothschild label. Artists such as Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Keith Haring, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol have been exhibited on the bottles.

"Andy Warhol didn't just do what he's told. which is normal for Andy," Baroness de Rothschild told Osgood. "This one thing that is told to the painters, they can do whatever they want, but horizontally because of the shape. The shape, exactly. but he didn't paint them that way. Warhol did these beautiful portraits of my father, three of them, but vertical, so we had to lay my father down on the label."

A number of the labels were shown on the Sunday Morning program - but I wanted to see more. An Internet search led me to the site The Artists Labels. Each label created since 1945 is displayed on the website. A brief history of the label project is provided, as are links to additional information of each featured artist. It's a great resource about an ongoing international art exhibit.

Illustration: 1988 label by the late Keith Haring

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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