The fantastic parade floats of Carnival’s Golden Age (1870-1930) depicted themes drawn from mythology, epic literature, history, nature, and whimsy. The glimmering processions of the masked gods and bearded kings of New Orleans Carnival occupy a central position among the rites and glories of this great festival. The long succession of these glowing, torch-lit pageants—with their towering monsters and fantastic decors, their papier-mâché kingdoms and diamond-dust thrones—became the greatest and most beloved of New Orleans communal rituals.
The introduction of the float brought tremendous artistry to the splendid conveyances for carnival revelry, but the artists and builders who created the fabled pageants have remained obscure or unknown, their amazing body of work largely forgotten. Even the surviving watercolor float plates and chromolithographed Carnival Bulletins are works of art and prized by collectors, as so few of these fragile items remain.
Presented in this collection are dazzling examples of original float designs as rendered in watercolor and lithographs—most of them reproduced here for the first time.