VINTAGE POSTERS







Vintage Posters







VINTAGE POSTERS





Although poster collecting has achieved considerable popularity, the development of the poster itself is a comparatively modern phenomenon. Today, it is not uncommon for posters to be produced specifically to appeal to collectors, the design and decorative aspects often being more important than the message they have to carry. Similarly, many old posters have been reprinted to sell as modern wall decorations and have achieved a longevity and fame far beyond the wildest dreams of their creators.




Posters, placards and playbills date back to the 18th century and beyond, but they did not become commonplace until the second half of the 19th century. Early posters tend to be wholly typographical, relying on the size and variety of letter-forms used by the printer to make their impact. Illustrations are rare, largely because of the technical problems involved in their reproduction, and colours are limited. The best known is probably the theatrical playbill, in which the diverse qualities of the entertainments advertised were expressed by the mixed styles and sizes of the typography. However, these displays of the printer's virtuosity have a limited appeal, partly because of the rarity and partly because of their lack of visual detail.






Vintage Posters

The change came in the Victorian period. Firstly, technical develop­ments such as chromolithography, high speed printing and photography gave the poster designer a new freedom. Chromolithography, or colour printing, was in regular use by about 1860, while the steam-powered printing press could produce up to 10,000 sheets an hour by the same date. Secondly, the rise of what is now called 'the consumer society' inspired a dramatic growth in advertising, affecting both its use and the subtlety of its presentation.

VINTAGE POSTERS
More people were able to afford more and more things, and so they had to be increasingly persuaded that they actually needed them. Equally, the increasing availability of advertising sites on walls, hoardings and particularly in the new railway stations, encouraged competitiveness among manufacturers and suppliers of information. Thirdly, increased demand and the greater availability of money en­couraged artists of greater skill and reputation to try their hands at poster designing; this was a change that immediately made posters more acceptable, and more memorable, to the educated middle classes.













Vintage Posters



VINTAGE POSTERS
The fourth, and in some ways the most important, factor was the revolution in artistic styles prompted by the reopening of the Japanese frontiers in the 1850s. Having been totally closed to the West for so long, Japan had acquired a magic and a fascination that knew no bounds within Europe. When the doors finally opened, they released Japanese artefacts into Europe that provoked an astonishing response affecting every field of artistic production. Spreading from France, the Japonisme movement swept across Europe, led by advanced designers such as the French engraver and artist F. Bracquemond and the English industrial designer and critic Dr Christopher Dresser.


While all aspects of Japanese art and production made an impact, none was so immediate and dynamic as the discovery of Japanese colour prints. These magnificent designs, so simply drawn with their fiat areas of bright colour, created a new style in European art. They affected particularly the French Impressionists and painters such as the Americans Whistler and Sargent, but their most direct influence was on poster design.



 VINTAGE POSTERS





Vintage Posters

These elements combined to produce a wholly new sort of poster, in which colour and drama were vital elements. This developed first of all in France, in the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret, Grasset, Steinlen and de Faure, but spread rapidly to other countries. In England, Beard- sley and Dudley Hardy followed the French lead, in America it was Will Bradley, while the Czech Mucha made his colourful and sinuous women familiar all over Europe.





VINTAGE POSTERS
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was probably the first artist to apply his skills and imagination to the poster. Lautrec was introduced to lithography by Edouard Ancourt, a Parisian printer, and in 1890 he received a commission from Charles Zidler of Le Moulin Rouge to produce the series of posters he is now famous for. In fact Lautrec's total output for Zidler and others only numbers some 30 - the sum total of Lautrec's poster work. He shunned the use of bright colours turning instead to muted yellows, greens and greys: he gave his characters such as Jane Avril and Aristide Bruant a reality not seen in earlier posters.




VINTAGE POSTERS



Vintage Posters

Theophile Alexandre Steinlein (1859-1923) drew on the work of both Lautrec and Cheret adding his own contribution as an excellent draughts­man. His best-known poster is probably the one for sterilised milk 'Lait pur de la Vingeanne sterilise', and is typical of his relaxed style, quite different from Lautrec's harsher portrayal of aspects of Parisian life. Steinlein's animals, particularly his cats, are beautifully-drawn, appeal­ing characters such as the fire-side cats in the Vingeanne poster and the aristocratic feline of Tournee du Chat Noir. Steinlein's posters were probably the first in a long line of animal posters.

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