*This is a guest post by our friends at Millesima.
Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Niki de Saint Phalle, Marc Chagall, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol… These are just a few of the dozens of influential creators who have contributed to the cultural legacy of Bordeaux Classified First Growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Every year since 1945, the Chateau has selected a contemporary artist and given them free rein to design the label for the newly released vintage of their legendary Grand Vin.
Each bottle of Mouton Rothschild wine thus stands as a steadfast symbol not just of the remarkable winemaking savoir-faire involved in its elaboration, but also of the character of one vintage in Bordeaux, reimagined as a work of art by a preeminent creative mind.
The History of Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s Art Collaboration
The Chateau’s involvement in the arts began in 1924, when the visionary Baron Philippe de Rothschild invited cubist designer Jean Carlu to create a poster for the Chateau. This avant-garde work by Carlu, one of the very first truly influential graphic designers, did not immediately catch on, and it was not until 1945 that Baron Philippe definitively put in place the Chateau’s art collaboration.
For this famous first edition, Baron Philippe commissioned an up-and-coming young artist by the name of Philippe Jullian, who produced a label inspired by Churchill’s “V for Victory” to celebrate a return to peace. And the rest is history.
The artists were first chosen by Baron Philippe, then by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and now her younger son, Julien de Beaumarchais. Since 2013, a collection of the original copy of each artwork has been presented in a glass display designed by Francis Lacloche in a gallery next to the vat room of the chateau. The collection is today open to the public and also travels the world as part of the “Painting for the Labels” exhibition.
The Significance of Mouton Rothschild’s Label Art
The widely recognized Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine label is divided into two sections. The top section features a copy of the original artwork, which changes with each vintage. Meanwhile the bottom section displays the information of the chateau and wine, including the Mouton Rothschild emblem (the ram), the name of the property, the vintage and the appellation of origin (Pauillac).
The act of illustrating each new vintage of this fine red wine with an original creation is meant to symbolize that a fine wine is also a piece of art with a transformative power of its own. The artwork changes each year because the wine does too, as each vintage brings its own unique character. The chateau’s announcement of its choice for artist of the vintage has become a widely anticipated moment in the world of fine wine, with each illustration adding to the legendary reputation of Mouton Rothschild and its sought-after wines.
The Artists Behind Mouton Rothschild’s Iconic Wine Labels
Over the course of the past eight decades, the Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine label has been graced by an original work by a contemporary artist. Starting with the work of Jean Carlu in 1924 and Philippe Jullian’s Churchillian “V for Victory” in 1945, the label has displayed the works of artists like Georges Braque, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. The 1948 label was the first to feature a female artist, Marie Laurencin, who made a sketch of two young followers of Bacchus.
For the 1958 label, Salvador Dali designed a charming sheep inspired by a child’s drawing, in ode to the chateau’s symbol. For the 1975 label, Andy Warhol combined photography, collage and ink to produce a pop art piece that juxtaposes the various faces of Baron Philippe de Rothschild.
To illustrate the 2015 vintage, German artist Gerhard Richter created a work called “Flux,” using photography to capture colors in motion. This work is meant to symbolize the way a fine wine is very much a living thing, with a sense of fullness and balance.
And in 2004, in honor of the Centenary of the Entente Cordiale (which created a historic alliance between formal rivals France and England), Baroness Philippine de Rothschild approached Prince Charles, HRH The Prince of Wales to contribute to the label. The Prince agreed and the label of the vintage now bears one of his watercolors, which was inspired by the French landscape. The label is also signed “To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale – Charles, 2004” in the Prince’s own handwriting.
2000: A Vintage of Exception
In 2000, Baroness Philippine did not commission an artist to design the chateau’s label. Instead, the bottle itself became the work of art. The high-quality heavy glass bottle features the “Augsburg Ram” created by German master goldsmith Jakob Schenauer in 1590. To make this work possible, the glassmaker created a new technique for enameling glass in relief, involving a method for firing the gold and enamel to produce a unique texture.
An unparalleled celebration of the arrival of a new millennium, the Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000 is a true collector’s item, a rare and sought-after work of art and piece of history.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about the Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine label and the artists behind them. Purchasing a bottle of Mouton Rothschild wine is purchasing a piece of history, art and culture. To find out more about the various labels, take a look at the Chateau’s webpage!
*This is a guest post by our friends at Millesima.