"Arizona" Vintage Santa Fe Railroad Travel Poster by Don Perceval, circa 1940s

This is a vintage Arizona travel poster for the Santa Fe Southern Railway, issued in the 1940s. A very collectible poster, the composition shows two men on horseback as they pass through the desert, dwarfed on both sides by giant Saguaros cacti. The arid, rocky landscape is depicted in varying shades of ochre, terracotta, and mauve purple, contrasted by a clear blue sky. The Santa Fe Southern Railway logo, a blue encircled cross, is also prominently displayed at bottom right. The poster was designed by Don Perceval. 

The Santa Fe Railway was founded in 1859. The company helped settle the midwest in the later part of the 19th Century by selling real estate and farm land sanctioned by Congress. The Santa-Fe Railway became the second transcontinental railway to exist. It expanded rail travel further than any other line, with north-to-south routes in California. Santa Fe had a robust freight business and extended its transportation reach with a bussing system. The Santa Fe Railway were strong advertisers, and produced many destination-driven posters, just like this one, to hang at airports, rail stations, billboards in large cities, and travel agencies.

Don Louis Perceval (1908 - 1979) was born in Essex, England but moved with his family to Los Angeles, California as a teenager. While studying at the Chouinard Art Institute in Hollywood, he made frequent trips to the southwest and became enamored with its history. Perceval returned to England for a time, studying at the Royal Academy in London. From there he went to Spain and then back to the American southwest on a commission to create advertisements for the Rio Grande Oil Company. During the Second World War, Don Perceval served with the Royal Navy on a patrol boat in the Thames Estuary and created a cartoon manual to teach gunnery to cadets.

After the war, Percevall once again settled in California with his family, teaching art at the Chouinard Art School and later Pomona College. He traveled extensively in Arizona, living with Hopi tribes in 1952 and in Tucson from 1954 to 1959.  Throughout the 1950s, he wrote for Western publications about brands and their history—from “Assyrian cattle to the horses of Cortes” and illustrated Western history books and novels set in the Southwest. From his studio, he created some of the finest paintings and watercolors ever done of the Navajo, the Hopi, and the stark and dramatic beauty of their homeland.


Good condition, considering age and past use. The colors are vibrant. The poster is linen-backed. Minor expert over-painting along bottom edge and corners; repaired tear into image at upper left. Poster dimensions: 24 1/8” H x 17 7/8” W. 

Poster is artfully presented in a custom black wooden frame with UV Plexiglass. Framed Dimensions: 25 1/2" H x 19 1/2" W x 3/4" D. 

Related Items