Poster Pioneers and Cabarets - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

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As a visit to any art or souvenir shop in Paris proves, late 19th-century advertising posters have a special place in French art history. The printing techniques were developed in Germany then perfected in England, but the first masters of the color-poster form are strongly associated with France and its cabarets. The father of them all is Jules Chéret, who pioneered brightly colored designs for the most famous Parisian nightclubs and entertainers of his time:


Jules Chéret, Bal du Moulin Rouge, 1889

Jules Chéret, Moulin Rouge: Paris Cancan, 1890

Jules Chéret, Folies Bergère: La Loïe Fuller, 1893

Jules Chéret, Folies Bergère: Emilienne d’Alençon, 1893

The best-known cabaret poster designer of the time, however, remains Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a younger artist who created some of the most recognizable posters in early advertising history. Unlike Chéret, whose posters covered many other topics, Toulouse-Lautrec mainly focused on the nightclubs and their stars, and he did so in a bold style that reveals the influence of Japanese woodblock prints, which were very fashionable in late 19th-century Western Europe:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue, 1891

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ambassadeurs: Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret, 1892

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret, 1892

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril au Jardin de Paris, 1893

By the late 1890s, advertising posters included all sorts of products and designs, but few of them are more iconic than the cabaret series by Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. An exception is of course Steinlen’s Chat Noir, but that’s also a cabaret poster.