Carnival Edition of the Picayune. Procession of Rex. New Orleans February 18th 1896. Subject Heavenly Bodies.

Carnival Edition of the Picayune. Procession of Rex. New Orleans February 18th 1896. Subject Heavenly Bodies.

New Orleans: The Picayune, 1896. T. Fitzwilliam & Co., Lithographers. Chromolithograph, 72 x 107 cm, mounted on new linen.

A captivating poster featuring the Krewe of Rex’s “Heavenly Bodies” floats for the 1896 Mardi Gras.

One of the oldest participants in Mardi Gras and the source of many of its storied traditions, the Krewe of Rex was founded in 1872 on the occasion of the visit to New Orleans of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia. This poster features Rex’s twenty astronomical floats representing such subjects as Argo Navis, Ursa Major, Venus, and the Pleiades. One marvelous float entitled “Lyra” features a group of female musicians accompanying a woman playing a winged harp; the ladies are borne upon a gray cloud adorned with beaming stars. The float Saturn consists of a disc featuring a fiery center with dragons spiraling out of the flames. Float No. 1 bears the King of the Carnival in a chariot drawn by unicorns. Each year a krewe member is named “Rex, the King of the Carnival” whose identity is kept secret until the day prior to Mardi Gras. On that day, the Mayor gives the key to the city to the King who has the honor of commencing the festivities.

Lithographer Thomas Fitzwilliam (1833-1917) was a native of County Wexford Ireland. He arrived in Philadelphia with his parents and siblings in 1850 and the family moved to New Orleans in 1853. In 1860 Fitzwilliam borrowed four thousand dollars to found T. Fitzwilliam & Co., Blank Book Manufacturer and Stationer at 76 Camp St. By the 1880s the company was producing chromolithographic Mardi Gras posters for both the Times -Democrat and the Daily Picayune. Following Fitzwilliam’s death in 1917, the company continued in operation under the ownership of Thomas’s son, Thomas William, until 1917.

REFERENCES: Thomas Fitzwilliam, 1933-1917 at yourstory.tenement.org

CONDITION: Old folds, some rubbing and minor losses along folds, a few short repaired tears and chips to margins.

Item #3366

Price: $900.00