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Title: Picture Posters - A Short History of the Illustrated Placard with Many - Reproductions of the Most Artistic Examples in all Countries
Author: Hiatt, Charles
Language: English
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PICTURE POSTERS

A Short History Of The Illustrated Placard With Many Reproductions Of
The Most Artistic Examples In All Countries

By Charles Hiatt

London: George Bell And Sons New York

MDCCCXCVI

Second Edition



PREFACE.

In the present volume an attempt has been made briefly to trace (the
history of the picture poster from the earliest times!) and to comment
upon and reproduce some of the most noteworthy examples in various
countries. The English and American placards have received special
attention, while the best examples of the French school have not
been overlooked. With very few exceptions, only posters signed, or
acknowledged, by the artists producing them, are included among the
illustrations. The whole subject is treated from the point of view
rather of art than of commerce. While it is believed that this book is
the first which deals in English with the Pictorial Poster, the author
desires to recognize his indebtedness to M. Maindron's work, and to
the catalogues of M. Sagot and Mr. Bella. The last-named has rendered
material aid by lending, for the purpose of reproduction, not a few
examples contained in his collection.

To name the artists and owners of valuable copyrights who have laid
the author under obligations would, however carefully compiled, almost
certainly contain serious omissions. It is hoped, therefore, that those
whose names would figure in such a list will acquit him of intentional
discourtesy or ingratitude. Special thanks are due to Mr. Gleeson White
for his editorial work in connexion with this volume; indeed, whatever
merits it may possess are due, in no small degree, to his care and
assiduity. Although personally unknown to the writer, Mr. Spiel-mann has
been so good as to assist materially in the matter of illustration. To
the kindness of M. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is owing the frontispiece
in the shape of a hitherto unpublished study for a poster; while the
reproduction of a sketch for the "Phit-Eesi" placard was courteously
consented to by Mr. Dudley Hardy, and Messrs. Vaterlow who printed
the poster itself. The cover has been specially drawn by Mr. Charles
Ffoulkes, to whom the writer desires to express his sincere thanks. The
Artistic Supply Company (Limited) have been so good as to consent to
the reproduction of unpublished copyright designs by Messrs. Bernard
Partridge, Max Cowper, the Brothers Beggarstaff, Sydney Adamscm, Kerr
Lawson, A. R. Wilson, and Lewis Baumer. A design, representing Sir Henry
Irving as "Don Quixote" is illustrated here owing to the kindness of
Miss Ellen Terry, who owns the original.

Charles Hiatt

October, 1895.

PICTURE POSTERS.



CHAPTER I. THE STORY OF THE PICTORIAL POSTER

It would be merely foolish to pretend that the pictorial poster,
looked at from the point of view of art, is of the same importance as
a portrait by Velasquez or an etching by Rembrandt. Its aesthetic
qualities have of necessity to be subordinated to its commercial
qualities; the artist is the servant of the tradesman. His first
business is not to achieve a decoration, but to call the attention of
the man in the street to the merits of an article. He may be fantastic
only in so far as his fantasy assists the advertisement; he must ever
keep before his eyes the narrow object of his effort. The closest limits
are set to his invention; it is not for him to do what he will, but
rather to do what he must. Under such circumstances, it is, at the first
blush, somewhat surprising that artists have condescended to the poster
at all. The bounds of freedom in the cases of painting and of sculpture
are, comparatively speaking, so wide that one is not unnaturally
amazed that the artist of talent is willing to work within the strict
limitations imposed on him in the production of a pictorial poster. And
yet, after all, to the ingenious designer there is a certain fascination
in the very strictness of these limits; the complexity of the problem
allures him, and gives him the appetite for experiment. Moreover, if he
believe that art is something more than a vague grace, a non-essential
luxury, he is ever anxious to extend her domain, to make her empire
universal. He believes it to be his mission to touch some ugly
necessity, to inform it with art, and, in doing so, to adorn it. He
is restless for new worlds to conquer, for fresh fields to occupy. His
ideal is art everywhere, art in all. He would fain give style and grace
even to the paraphernalia of commerce: the necessities of trade shall
not be hideous if he can make them otherwise. And so it happens that
he is willing, nay eager, to turn his attention to the poster, with
the result that the hoarding becomes an interesting, even a charming,
gallery of designs. What was one of the most hideous of human inventions
is transformed into a delight to the eyes. Colour and interest are added
to the street; the gay and joyous take the place of the dull and ugly.

It follows, supposing that I have stated the case fairly, that it is
not derogatory to the dignity, even of a very great artist, to apply his
talent to the poster.

It is clear that the poster is one of the oldest and most obvious forms
of advertisement. It is almost impossible to conceive a time in the
history of man, once he had learned to express his thoughts in design or
in writing, when the idea of the thing did not exist. It must have been
an incident of the most crude and ancient of civilizations; even the
cave-dweller in the dim and distant past must surely have possessed the
essential idea of it. From the cave-dweller to the comparatively complex
civilization of the ancient and greater Egypt is a far cry. That the
mural inscription, which is obviously the germ of the poster, flourished
exceedingly in the Land of the Pharaohs is matter of history. A papyrus
is comprised in the collections of the Louvre, which may fairly be
described as a poster. It is dated so early as 146 b.c., and deals
at length with the escape of two slaves from the city of Alexandria,
offering a reward to anybody who should discover their place of retreat.
Still more interesting, though less ancient, is an inscription in Greek,
discovered in the Temple at Jerusalem, in 1872, by M. Clermont-Gannerau.
It was issued during the reign of Herod the Great, and forbids the
entry, by foreigners, to certain parts of the Temple on pain of death.

Of the poster in Greece we know very little. Legal inscriptions were
undoubtedly written on whitened walls, or on axones, the latter being
wooden tablets painted white, and made to revolve slowly on an upright
axis. In passing from Greece to Rome, we pass from somewhat fragmentary
to comparatively exact: information. The Roman notice-board was called
an _album_, and it is a matter of dispute whether it was white with
black letters, or of a dark colour with the text in white. Anybody who
took away, destroyed, or mutilated an album was liable to an _actio
albi corrupti_, and to heavy damages besides. It appears to have been
invented in the first place, in order to give publicity to the annual
edict of the Prætor; subsequently, however, the word album was used to
signify any tablet on which a public announcement was inscribed.
The ruins of Pompeii have furnished us with at least one interesting
fragment of an album, on which are written notices of the most diverse
kinds. Amongst them are the following:

FAMILIA. GLADIATORIA VENATIO. ET. VELA.

and:

A. SVETTII. CERII.

AEDILIS. FAMILIA. GLADIATORIA. PUGNAVIT. POMPEIS. PR. K. IVNIAS.
VENATIO. ET. VELA. ERUNT.

and again:

DEDICATIONS THERMARUM. MUNERIS.

ENAI. ALLEI. NIGIDII.

MAII. VENALIO. ATHELA.

SPARSIONES. VELA.

ERUNT. MAIO. PRINCIPI.

COLON IÆ. FELICITER.

As for the Roman bookseller, he was in the habit of placarding his shop
with the titles of books just published, or about to be published. Take,
for instance, the shop described by Martial in the lines:

                   " Contra Caesaris est forum taberna,

                   Scriptis postibus hinc et inde totis,

                   Omnes ut cito perlegas poetas.

                   Illinc me pete.

The actor has never been inclined to hide his light under a bushel.
Advertisement has always been dear to him, and it is not surprising
to find that the Roman actor made the most of the opportunity of the
publicity offered to him by the _album._ Not content with having
his name inscribed in gigantic letters, he went a step further, and
anticipated the illustrated _affiche_. Just as Sarah Bernhardt employs
the decorative skill of Grasset to depict her as Joan of Arc, so did the
old Roman actor employ Callades, an artist mentioned very favourably
by Pliny, to portray him in his favourite parts. Callades would seem to
have been the Chéret of his age: he was the great artistic advertiser of
ancient Rome, just as Chéret is the great artistic advertiser of modern
Paris.

It is obvious, then, that the idea of the illustrated poster existed
among the Romans: the difference between Callades and Chéret is one of
method rather than of vital principle. And even the difference in method
is slight.

Of the poster in the time which immediately succeeded the fall of the
Roman Empire we have very little trustworthy information. It is possible
that the Romans introduced the album into Gaul and into Britain, and
that the sight of it became as familiar to the inhabitants of Eboracum
and Uriconium as it was to the natives of Rome and Pompeii. A French
historian of distinction has stated that the _affiche_ was employed by
the earliest of the kings of France, but this statement can hardly
be said to be borne out by facts. It is at least certain that the
signboard, which is a variation of the pictorial poster, was employed in
the early part of the Middle Ages. The poster, unless illustrated, would
have been useless in a community in which the art of writing was held
effeminate, in which the most illustrious knight openly boasted of his
inability to sign his name. The principal means of advertisement at that
time was the public crier. As early as the twelfth century the criers of
France formed an organized body, "for," as Mr. Sampson tells us in his
_History of Advertising_, "by a charter of Louis VII. granted in the
year 1141 to the inhabitants of the province of Berry, the old custom
of the country was confirmed, according to which there were to be only
twelve criers, five of whom should go about the taverns crying with
their usual cry, and carrying with them samples of the wine they cried
in order that people might taste. For the first time they blew the
horn they were entitled to a penny, and the same for every time after,
according to custom.... These wine-criers are mentioned by John de
Garlando, a Norman writer, who was probably contemporary with William
the Conqueror." The wine-crier is frequently mentioned in early French
street-ballads. To instance one of them:

                   "Si crie l'on en plusors leurs

                   Si bon vui fort a trente deux

                   A seize, a douze, a six, a huiet."

In England also the crier was an early institution, for we find one
Edmund le Criour mentioned in a document dated 1299. Even when the crier
was the pre-eminent advertiser, the poster, or at least the handbill,
had its place. At first the bills were written, but almost as soon
as Caxton introduced the newly-discovered art of printing they were
produced by that method. Perhaps the earliest English poster is that
by which Caxton, about the year 1480, announced the "Pyes of Salisbury
Use," at the Red Pole in the Almonry at Westminster. The size of this
broadside is five inches by seven, and the text runs as follows:

"If it please any man spirituel or temporel to bye our pyes of two or
thre comemo-racio's of Salisburi use, emprunted after the form of
this prese't lettre, which ben wel and truly correct, late hym come to
West-monster, into the almonestrye at the reed pole ane he shall have
them good and chepe.

                        "Supplico stet cedula."

The "pyes" in question, it may be noted, were a series of diocesan
rules.

It is in the sixteenth century that we meet with the poster properly so
called. For example, we have a royal proclamation of François I relating
to the police of the city of Paris, which runs: "Nous voulons que ces
présentes ordonnances soient publiées tous les moys de l'an, par tous
les quarrefours de cette ville de Paris et faux bourgs d'icelle, à son
de trompe et cry public. Et néantmoins quelles soient attachées a un
tableau, escriptes en parche-main et en grosse lettre, en tous les seize
quartiers de ladite ville de Paris es esdiétz faux bourgs, et lieux
les plus éminents et apparens d'iceulx, afin qu'elles soient cognues
et entendues parfun chacun. Et qu'il ne soit loysible oster les dictz
tableaux, sur peine de punition corporelle, dont les dictz commissaires
auront la charge chacun en son quartier."

The words "attachées a un tableau, escriptes en parchemain et en grosse
lettre" leave no doubt that the poster as we now know it was a usual
method of advertisement in the reign of François Ier. The _affiche_
soon after received the attention of the French legislature, for the
production and exhibition of posters of certain kinds in France,
was expressly forbidden by "un arrêt du Parlement" dated the 7th of
February, 1652. To publishers and booksellers, however, the privilege of
posting the titles of their new books was specially reserved.

As printing became less expensive and methods for the mechanical
reproduction of pictures and designs were discovered, it needed no
great ingenuity to add emphasis to the poster by means of pictorial
illustration. Acrobats, the stall-keepers at fairs on the ice, and the
like, were speedily induced to adorn their advertisements with rude
drawings, while Royal proclamations were usually decorated heraldically.
Early in the eighteenth century, the bills announcing the departure and
arrival of coaches were headed by pictures, as for example the one which
related to the Birmingham coach in 1731.

Even earlier in date, there are illustrated advertisements relating to
the Roman Catholic church. One of these, produced in France, dated 1602,
is very curious and elaborate in design. While, however, many posters
such as this are profoundly interesting to the archaeologist, they can
hardly be considered works of art. It is not until the middle of the
present century is reached that we find important examples of pictorial
poster deliberately planned by an artist. The modern artistic poster
movement, as we shall see in the next chapter, had its origin in Paris
some fifty years ago.



CHAPTER II.--IN FRANCE DURING THE PRESENT CENTURY

|As we have seen, the idea of the poster, and even of the pictorial
poster, is an extremely ancient one, but it is only at the commencement
of the present century that distinguished designers deliberately
attempted to make the pictorial poster a work of art. The few posters,
at once pictorial and artistic, which are of earlier date than the
time in question, are artistic by accident rather than by deliberate
intention. So early, however, as the year 1836, we find a really
distinguished French artist, Lalance, producing a poster. Lalance was,
perhaps, the pioneer of pioneers, and his advertisement for the book,
"Comment Meurent Les Femmes," if not of great artistic interest, cannot
be overlooked in any book dealing with the history of art as applied
to the poster. Only a fewr copies exist. Immediately succeeding him,
we have Célestin Nanteuil engaged in producing an advertisement for an
edition of "Robert Macaire," dated 1837. The year following, Rafifet
brought out his "Napoléon de Norvins." This work is signed as well as
dated. Raffet, in addition to the "Napoléon de Norvins," designed two
more posters dealing with the career of the great emperor as well as the
history of Algeria. Very soon after comes an important _affiche_, "Le
Prado," by Eugène Gauché, and from that time the artistic poster became
an established institution.

It may be fairly stated that the direct cause of the artistic poster in
France was the illustrated book. The illustrated book, issued in weekly
or monthly numbers, has always appealed keenly to the French, and it is
usual to give the first number for nothing to all who care to ask for
it. The illustrators of these books were very frequently induced by the
publishers of them to do a poster advertising the edition of the works
they had illustrated. Sometimes one of the illustrations in the book was
merely enlarged and lithographed, but more generally the artist made a
special design. Perhaps, at the time, the most widely known among French
producers of the _affiche illustré_ was Gavarni. The vogue for the works
of this eminent illustrator and satirist is perhaps not so great as
it was twenty years ago. At all events, the value of his works is not
nearly so great as it was then, and it has become usual to talk of him
in a manner which is patronizing rather than genuinely appreciative. It
may be that his

[Illustration: 0034]

savage and grotesque point of view discounts his merits as an artist.
His power and originality, however, few will deny.

Among the posters which he designed, one of the most characteristic is
the "Oeuvres Choisis." The original is extremely rare,

[Illustration: 0035]

but a copy exists in a folio volume in the British Museum, in which
one or two other posters by Gavarni will be found. For the "Almanach
Imperial, 1846," by

[Illustration: 0036]

E. Marco de S. Hilaire, illustrated by Bertrand, a poster (which was,
perhaps, an enlargement of the cover) exists. It is a very

[Illustration: 0037]

OUVRAGE COMPLET, a jingo affair, representing the French emperor
standing on the globe with the imperial eagle of France at his feet.
Of a little later date are several interesting posters by Grandville.
Amongst them are "Les Metamorphoses du Jour" (of which a number

[Illustration: 0038]

of pigs in different costumes is the main feature), "Des Animaux," "Ma
Tante," "Petit Misère," and "St. Helène." Of the two latter I need say
nothing, since they are reproduced here, save that they are included
in the collection of the British Museum. An illustrated poster very
characteristic of

[Illustration: 0039]

its period, insomuch as it is intensely grotesque, is the "Voyage ou
il vous plaira," by Tony Johannot. Its central figures are a
monstrous dwarf holding a lantern, a crouching dragon, and an immense
notice-board. An _affiche_ which is, perhaps, of

[Illustration: 0040]

even more general interest, is one done for an illustrated edition of
"Don Quichotte," in which the very perfect, gentle knight is represented
with a grotesqueness which would certainly have astonished Cervantes
himself. Of a similar kind is the "Nains Célèbres," by E. de Beaumont.
An illustrated poster of a kind utterly different to the one last
discussed is by T. H. Frère. It was designed for the advertisement of a
work entitled "La Touraine," by Stanislas Bellanger de Tours. Under no
circumstances should one overlook an _affiche_ of about the same
period on account of the great personality of its designer. It is very
generally admitted that the name of Edouard Manet is one of the greatest
in the history of modern painting. It would indeed be difficult to
over-estimate the extent of his influence on the pictorial art of the
day. The poster reproduced in these pages is not unworthy his great
talent. It is curious to notice that Manet and Fred. Walker, an English
artist of about the same time, as to whose genius all are agreed, should
have been at one in their endeavour to make the illustrated poster
artistic as well as merely pictorial.

I have not attempted to deal with any save the most prominent of the
great number of French designers who took part in the poster movement
during the fifties. Their names and the titles of some of their works
will be found in the first catalogue of M. Ed. Sagot, and valuable
criticism is contained in the pages of M. Maindron.

[Illustration: 0042]



CHAPTER III.--IN FRANCE. THE WORK OF CHÉRET, GRASSET, AND TOULOUSE-LAUTREC

|So many contemporary French artists are designing posters, that a
single chapter dealing with them all would be of an alarming length. I
have therefore, in the first place, separated from their fellows three
who seem to me curiously individual and worthy of careful consideration.
Of the men whose names head this chapter, pre-eminence is due, for
various reasons, to Jules Chéret, whose position, in the matter of
poster-designing, is quite without parallel.

It may be that men of rarer, of more fascinating, talent have now and
again devoted themselves to the _affiche_; but none of them can compare
with Chéret in the magnitude and curiosity of his achievement. Many
have produced charming wall pictures: nobody, save Chéret, has made an
emphatic mark on the aspect of a metropolis. Paris, without its Chérets,
would be Paris without one of its most pronounced characteristics;
Paris, moreover, with its gaiety of aspect materially diminished. The
great masses of variegated colour formed by Chéret's posters greet one
joyously as one passes every hoarding, smile at one from the walls of
every café, arrest one before the windows of every kiosque. The merits
of the Saxoléine lamp, the gaieties of the Moulin Rouge, the charms
of Loie Fuller, the value of a particular brand of cough-lozenges, are
insisted upon with a good-humoured vehemence of which Jules Chéret alone
appears to know the secret. Others, in isolated cases, have possibly
achieved more compelling decorations, but none can pretend to a success
so uniform and so unequivocal. Few men as richly endowed with the gift
of decoration would! have been content to produce work which, were
it not for the portfolio of the collector, would be of an entirely
ephemeral character. It must be irritating to the artist to watch the
gradual destruction of his chefs-d'oeuvre, condemned as they are to
be torn by every wind, soaked by every shower, blistered by the sun,
blurred by the fog. It is natural that he should turn his eyes longingly
to the comparative permanence of canvas, marble, or bronze; and it
says much for Chéret's confidence in his artistic mission for his nice
realization of his possibilities and limitations that he has remained
faithful to the _affiche_ for over twenty years. Now and

[Illustration: 0046]

[Illustration: 0048]

again, it is true, he has turned aside to do work of more universally
recognized and more pretentious a character, and the very fact that he
has touched scarcely anything which he has not adorned, emphasises his
fidelity to a branch of art until quite recently despised and held of
little moment. It is, indeed, mainly owing to this devotion, to this
lavish expense of talent, that the poster is not even now considered
beneath the dignity of the collector. The judicious, as soon as their
eyes fell upon Chéret's vast lithographs, decided that he was no
mere colour-printer's hack, but an artist whose work would have to be
reckoned with. There was something positively alluring in the spectacle
of a man who calmly placed his gift at the disposal of the tradesman,
who accepted without murmur the limitations which the tradesman imposed
upon him. It is possible that, had it not been for the circumstances of
his life, the streets of Paris would have remained undecorated, so far
as Chéret was concerned, to this day. Commencing as the humblest of
lithographers, Chéret did not take up art of set intention, but passed
irresistibly, though it may be unconsciously, into it. After long years
of patient and tedious work as an ordinary lithographer, at the dawn
of the year 1866, he commenced what was destined to be the most notable
series of pictorial posters in existence, a series containing over a
thousand items, and one which happily has yet to close. It is doubtless
the conditions of his early life, the lessons learned while under the
yoke of trade, that have enabled Chéret to appreciate to the full
that the first business of an advertisement is to advertise. Avoiding,
therefore, all subtle harmonies, he goes in for contrasts of colour,
violent, it is true, but victorious in their very violence. Blazing
reds, hard blues, glowing yellows, uncompromising greens, are flung
together, apparently haphazard, but in reality after the nicest
calculation, with the result that the great pictures, when on the
hoardings, insist positively on recognition. One might as well attempt
to ignore a fall of golden rain, as to avoid stopping to look at them;
they are so many riots of colour, triumphant in their certainty of
fascinating and bewildering the passerby.

As may be imagined, Chéret's skill has fullest scope when dealing with
the lightest and gayest subjects: a _cascade de clowns_--to borrow
a phrase of Huysman--an entrance of ballet girls; a joyous troupe of
children, contented because toy-laden; these, and the like, are subjects
most congenial to him. His style is essentially the outcome of the day.
It possesses no decorative forerunners; it is not a thing derived; its
parents are the gaieties of modern Paris. It is intensely actual, and in
its actuality lies, it

[Illustration: 0052]

seems to me, its greatest claim to consideration. It is infused with a
somewhat hectic gaiety which holds a not unimportant place in the lives
of us suffering from this "sick disease of modern life." Of the sick
disease itself, Chéret gives no hint. He is unflagging in his vivacity,
unswerving in his insistence on the _joie de vivre_; instead of
pondering over the inevitable sorrow of life, he busies himself
depicting the naïve grace of the child, the elegance of the mondaine.
His gifts lead him inevitably to such subjects. His merit as a
draughtsman lies, in part, in vivacious rather than correct line:
gaiety, as we have seen, is the chief quality of his colour: his
composition is remarkable on account of the piquancy and appropriateness
of its detail. He chooses with unerring fidelity the subjects suited
to his temperament and his gifts. These subjects are not of infinite
variety, and it follows that if one sees a great quantity of Chéret's
work together, one becomes aware of a certain feeling of monotony. One
can be satiated even of Chéret's gaiety and joyousness.

To attempt any account of Chéret's thousand and more posters, is
obviously impossible in any but an elaborate monograph devoted
exclusively to him. I can do no more here than comment on a few of the
most striking. It may be stated generally, that while the earlier ones
are rarest because most difficult to procure, the more recent designs
show the artist at his best. A mastery of chromo-lithography such
as his, cannot be obtained without many essays, some of which are
foredoomed to failure. In addition, Chéret has gradually improved alike
in the splendour of his colour, and the disposal of his pattern. Perhaps
he has never been happier in his treatment of children than in one or
two of the "Buttes-Chaumont" series. The joy of the little ones in the
possession of their new playthings is contagious. Utterly different in
kind, though not less conspicuously successful, is "Les Coulisses de
l'Opéra au Musée Grevin," a delightfully piquant representation of a
group of premières danseuses in the traditional costume. As a specimen
of amazingly effective and strangely beautiful colour, it would be
difficult to exceed the "Loie Fuller" series; while, in the matter of
pert gracefulness, Chéret has done nothing more delicious than the chic
little lady in the yellow dress who smiles at you in the "Pantomimes
Lumineuses." Anybody who could resist her fascinations would be a rival
to St. Anthony. No collector of course, will overlook the great series
of _affiches_ which Chéret has contrived for the Folies Bergère, the
Moulin Rouge, the Alcazar d'Eté, and similar places of amusement In
order to sum up his talent as a designer of posters, Chéret has produced
four decorative panels, which, although without lettering,

[Illustration: 0056]

[Illustration: 0058]

[Illustration: 0060]

[Illustration: 0062]

[Illustration: 0064]

[Illustration: 0066]

are posters to all intents and purposes, and would take their places on
a hoarding quite admirably. The subjects are most happily chosen; who,
better than Chéret, could symbolize, in manner light and fantastic,
music, comedy, pantomime, and dancing? The designs gain immensely,
insomuch as they are not disfigured with a legend, for, in spite of
the fact that the disposal of the lettering is of the very essence of
a poster, Chéret, for some reason known only to himself, leaves that
detail of his work to another designer, with results by no means
uniformly fortunate. Before leaving Chéret, it is only just to him to
point out that his work loses more than that of almost any other artist,
in the process of reproduction in black and white. It is impossible to
convey any idea of his amazing colour by means of a halftone block,
and therefore, fewer reproductions of his designs are included in these
pages than might be expected. Needless to say, he suffers greatly from
more or less unskilful imitators. For this reason, combined with the
fact that he is engaged on a series of decorations for the Paris Hôtel
de Ville, his excursions into the art of the hoarding will be less
frequent than has been the case hitherto.

To turn from Chéret to Eugène Grasset, is to turn to an artist in whose
art career the poster is merely an incident. Grasset is a paragon of
versatility; there are literally no bounds to his comprehensiveness.
Besides being a painter of distinction, he has designed everything, from
stained glass to book-covers, from piano-cases to menus. Unlike
Chéret, he has been profoundly impressed by the work of old decorative
designers; he has certainly not disdained to borrow; his borrowings,
however, have been at once legitimate and intelligent. The Japanese, the
old Italians, and in a less degree, the ancient Greeks, have been laid
under contribution, with results which, if not amazingly original,
are at least delightful. It would be idle to pretend that, from the
standpoint of the advertiser, Grasset is the equal of Chéret. His sense
of beauty, his passion for decoration, make it impossible for him to
achieve the daring and victorious colour which is so effective in the
work of Chéret. A panel of his posters, side by side with a panel of
those of Chéret, is as a beautiful and somewhat quiet-hued wall-paper to
a cascade of flowers of every conceivable colour. While, however, this
is an important matter from the advertiser's point of view, it is of
little moment to the collector, whose primary object is to fill his
portfolios with things of beauty. At times, indeed, Grasset does achieve
irresistible advertisement; nobody, for instance, could overlook the
superb representation of Sarah Bernharct as "Jeanne d'Arc," standing
with splendid disdain amidst a forest of spears

[Illustration: 0070]

[Illustration: 0072]

and a shower of arrows, and waving above her head a great silken banner
embroidered with the _fleur-de-lis_. Again, one lingers before the
"Fêtes de Paris," attracted by its

[Illustration: 0074]

fine decorative qualities. Of an entirely different kind is the
delicious little poster which the artist did for an exhibition of his
own work at the Salon des Cent in 1894; in the naïve simplicity of the
thing, combined with its fine decorative quality, there is a hint of
Botticelli and the old Italians. The contrast between this poster,
slightly archaic as it is, and the realistic "Odéon Théâtre" is
complete. The latter represents a charmingly graceful girl, in a
delicious modern gown, watching a play. She is accompanied by a
highly-proper looking matron, whose self-importance is enhanced by the
possession of a handsome dress and a wealth of jewels. Very pretty,
again, is the "Librairie Romantique," with the façade of Nôtre Dame in
the background. Less worthy of Grasset is the "A la Place Clichy," which,
in spite of the majestic old oriental who descants on the merits of an
elaborate carpet to a critical European, is somewhat commonplace. Among
the other productions of this artist, some of them excellent, but
not calling for special description, are the "Histoire de France,"
"Napoléon," "Chocolat Mexicain," and "L'Encre Marquet," as well as those
done to advertise a work on the capital cities of the world, and the
exhibition of the productions of French decorative artists held in 1893
at the Grafton Gallery. A bill designed for the South of France Railway
Company is curious, insomuch as it is unlike the other productions of
its designer. It consists of a series of pleasant little landscapes
wreathed in the characteristic fruits and flowers of the Riviera. The
colour is striking and the

[Illustration: 0076]

[Illustration: 0078]

poster full of sunshine. It is one of the merits of Grasset that he is
not, even in what is to him so small a matter as poster-designing, the
slave of a single style,

[Illustration: 0080]

although all his works are obviously from the same hand. Before leaving
him, it should in fairness be stated that the lettering of his bills is
ever appropriate and decorative. True artist that he is, he neglects no
detail whatsoever; in the smallest thing

[Illustration: 0081]

as in the greatest, he is not merely scrupulous, but even fastidious.

It is no dispraise of Chéret and Grasset to say that the work of Henri
de Toulouse-Lautrec is more fascinating than theirs. The designs of the
former two are alike in

[Illustration: 0082]

that they are charming, though charming in manner entirely different;
Lautrec's productions, alluring and powerful as they are, can by no
stretch of the word be so described. He does not seek to attract you
by joyousness of colour or grace of pattern, but rather to compel
your attention by the force of his realism or the curiosity of his
grotesqueness. For his posters are at once realistic and grotesque; they
are delineations of life as seen by a man who, possessing the most acute
powers of observation, is poignantly impressed by the incongruities
of modern life, the physical peculiarities of modern men. He has some
points of similarity with Hogarth, with Rowlandson; and the like, but
his art is quite non-moral; he has no mission to depict vice as either
hideous or ridiculous. His extraordinary "Reine de Joie," perhaps the
most powerful, and certainly the least agreeable, of his posters, is a
statement of fact rather than a criticism. This great bill, owing to
the vehemence of the expression on the faces of the three people it
represents, to the wonderful vigour of its line, to its extraordinarily
effective, though simple, colour, is one of the most powerful designs of
the kind ever accomplished. It may be doubted whether any book has been
advertised in so unforgettable a manner as _La Reine de Joie_.

For the Paris _café chantant_ artiste who possesses the charming name
of Jane Avril, this designer has devised a grotesque decoration, which
could not fail imperiously to call attention to her talents as a dancer.
Inspired it may be by her name, it may be

[Illustration: 0084]

by a happy accident, Lautrec has employed a scheme of colour in which
are found the pale

[Illustration: 0086]

tulip. Once having seen this work, the name, and indeed something of
the personality, of Jane Avril is impressed on one's mind. Moreover,
one easily recalls this unassuming poster vividly, when works of art,
consecrated by the admiration of generations of critics, are quite
forgotten, or only faintly remembered. No man of more passionate and
curious talent than Aristide Bruant has ever devoted himself to the
business of light amusement, and it was no doubt quite congenial to
Lautrec to advertise the performances which he gives in his cabaret.
Again, the artist's picture of another entertainer, Caudieux,
represented in the act of quitting the stage, is masterly for its
indication of movement and its powerful characterization. Bad from
the advertiser's point of view, but most interesting from that of the
collector, is the extremely rare "Le Pendu," a production which for
weird and intense tragedy compares to advantage with any of the artist's
posters. Scarcely less rare, though by no means so important, is the
_affiche_ done to advertise the performances of La Goulue at the Moulin
Rouge. A far more agreeable design is the "Divan Japonais," in which a
fearful and wonderful girl, accompanied by a man as fashionable as he
seems to be imbecile, is represented under the spell of Yvette Guilbert,
whose tall, thin figure is seen across the orchestra, her arms, in the
famous black gloves, being

[Illustration: 0088]

[Illustration: 0090]

[Illustration: 0092]

[Illustration: 0094]

crossed in front of her with characteristic nonchalance.

It is in no way astonishing that Mile. Guilbert has strongly attracted
Lautrec, and that he has frequently made her the subject of his work.
No music-hall performer has, so far, approached this brilliant woman in
ability or in artistic prestige. Like Patti and Sarah Bernhardt, she is
implored to testify to the merits of every brand of soap or every new
perfume; like them her reputation extends beyond the bounds of her
native place, and she is the admired of several foreign capitals. If
the flower of French art and literature assemble to honour Zola, the
proceedings are incomplete without a song from her; if the fastidious
De Goncourt is presented with the rosette of the Legion of Honour, what
more fitting than that she should deliver a recitation? In some degree
she sees the life of modern Paris in the same light as Lautrec; her
wonderful delineations are realistic as are his, though their realism is
touched with a suspicion of the grotesque. Amongst other things, she
has inspired Lautrec to a series of illustrations remarkable alike in
drawing and colour; and he has not disdained to design lithographs to
adorn the covers of different items of her _répertoire_. Owing to his
kindness, I am enabled to reproduce, as the frontispiece to this
volume, a sketch for a poster which he designed for her, but which,
unfortunately, has never got beyond the experimental stage. It seems to
me a specially interesting example of a remarkable talent applied to a
very congenial subject. The posters of Lautrec are something more than
works of art; they are human documents strangely eloquent of their
moment. For this reason, their value may be more permanent than that of
the productions either of Chéret or Grasset, delightfully fantastic as
are the former, charmingly decorative as are the latter.



CHAPTER IV.--IN FRANCE: THE WORK OF WILLETTE, FORAIN, STEINLEN

ANQUETIN, BONNARD, IBELS, VALLOTON, DE FEURE, AND McTIVET

|It is not for a moment to be pretended that the artists with whom this
chapter deals are in any sense members of a single school: they have,
indeed, many more points of difference than of similarity. I deal with
them together, because, speaking roughly, their designs are saturated
with the spirit of the day: their decorations are realistic, rather than
fantastic or picturesque. They lean towards Lautrec, rather than towards
Chéret or Grasset, but they are in no sense his imitators; some of them,
indeed, are actually his predecessors.

Willette is an artist of such astonishing facility and variety, that he
has, comparatively speaking, devoted little time to the _affiche_,
and save in one or two conspicuous instances, he has failed to achieve
compelling advertisements. And yet his artistic personality is so
curious and so powerful that his posters are nearly all interesting to
the collector,-more interesting to the collector, it may well be, than
satisfactory to the advertiser. Willette is master of several manners.
He can be realistic to the point of brutality, symbolical, graceful;
while now and then he is almost austerely classical. There are, happily,
few posters so impregnated with race hatred as the anti-Semitic
bill intended to forward the artist's candidature at the _Elections
législatives_ of the 22nd of September, 1889. The design is ugly in the
last degree, but it is, nevertheless, strangely powerful. Very different
and very much more pleasing is the lithograph in black-admirably
composed and executed--which advertised the successful pantomime,
entitled L'Enfant Prodigue. The design is at once graceful and dramatic,
and it is not surprising that a proof before letters is one of the gems
of a collection of the posters of Willette. No more interesting
souvenir of an experiment which fascinated both Paris and London can be
conceived. Again, the bill advertising the International Exhibition
of Commerce and Industry, held some time ago at the Champs de Mars (an
unlettered proof of which commands no less than two pounds), is very
desirable. The little bill in colours bearing the legend,

               "Ainsi qu'un papillon volage,

               A qui passe aujourd'hui, demain sera passé.

               Laisse-toi cuellir au passage

                   Papillon d'Actualité,"

[Illustration: 0100]

[Illustration: 0102]

[Illustration: 0104]

[Illustration: 0106]

[Illustration: 0108]

is pretty, alike in colour and pattern, and has already become rare.

Entirely appropriate to its purpose is the "Nouveau Cirque"
advertisement, in which clowns, bare-back riders, and performing animals
of all kinds-from a frog to an elephant-disport themselves with the
utmost _abandon_. From this to the "Cacao Van Houten," is a far cry.
From the point of view of the advertiser, Willette has done nothing
better than his life-size study of a Dutch waitress in national costume.
The thing is very decorative, and succeeds admirably in attracting
attention: another and more complicated design for the same firm is only
a shade less successful. This is entitled "La loi défendent le cacao
contre le chocolat." The other posters of this artist include the rare
"Petite National," the "Evénement Parisien" (which was, I believe,
suppressed), the "Courrier Française," the "Exposition Charlet," and the
"Elysée Montmartre." The posters of Willette are marked by variety and
ingenuity of invention, and there is little doubt that they will be
of permanent value as revelations of a talent as individual as it is
powerful.

If the artistic poster is an unimportant incident in the career of
Willette, it is still more so in that of Forain, whose essays in this
direction have been few and far between. Forain is known to nearly every
artist in Europe as a great master of black and white.

Few, if any, can approach him in technical dexterity, few can express
so much in so few lines. Moreover, to his technical mastery is added a
searching power of criticism which gives to his work a further, and a
most important, interest. In his desire to depict the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth, he (no doubt unconsciously) becomes a
moralist. He depicts life from no sentimental point of view; he can be
realistic without seeming to appreciate the tragedy which is of the very
essence of realism, so that on seeing one of his illustrations of modern
life, one receives, apart from technical delight, a distinctly literary
impression. Of his posters, perhaps the earliest is one unsigned and
without lettering, representing an illuminated garden, in which a woman
is depicted in the midst of an explosion of fireworks. Subsequent to
this comes a bill to advertise one of the novels of Dubut de Laforest,
which bears the artist's signature. The design which announces Forain's
political drawings for the "Figaro" is of slight importance, as it was
not originally intended for a poster. In spite of this it is by no means
easy to meet with. Of greater interest is the "Exposition des Arts de
la Femme." It was, however, only when Forain received a commission to
produce an illustrated advertisement for a cycle show that he achieved a
really memorable poster, a poster of real charm and rare

[Illustration: 0112]

[Illustration: 0114]

originality. The sport of bicycling seems to have fascinated the
_Parisienne_ completely, and Forain has made a charming design, in which
she is depicted in complete enjoyment of the fashionable pastime. The
colour scheme is restrained and delicate, and the production, which
exists in two sizes, should certainly be found amongst the treasures of
every amateur of the _affiche_.

The somewhat risky pages of the _Gil Bias Illustré_ have for a
considerable time been noticeable to artists, chiefly on account of a
series of coloured illustrations by Steinlen. His relentless veracity in
depicting the life of the lower classes of the Paris of to-day is almost
without rival. No detail of squalor seems to escape him; without a tinge
of remorse he proceeds to inform us of the meanest incidents in the
tragedy of the poor or vicious quarters of the great city. By reason of
a certain emphasis of colour and crudeness of design the art of Steinlen
is admirably adapted to the production of such human documents. But
it cannot be maintained that, whatever their technical merits, these
studies of human misery are other than unpleasant-even painful. It is,
therefore, altogether agreeable, when one turns to his essays in the
art of the poster, to find his work graceful rather than tragic, urbane
rather than mordant. Forsaking his mission of realistic illustration, he
becomes gay, dainty, and fanciful as the best of his fellows. Even in a
higher degree than the majority of them, he makes his design appropriate
to the thing advertised. His decorations are spiced with a certain
actuality, and, in being so, insist more effectively on the particular
article the merits of which it is their business to proclaim. No better
example of this could, I think, be put forward than the "Lait pur de
la Vingeannestérilisé," a design which, in view of the material to be
advertised, is conceived in the happiest vein. The pretty little girl
drinking the milk, so much coveted of the cats which surround her, is
less interesting than the animals themselves. The draughtsmanship of
the latter is excellent, while there is a hint of that humanity of
expression about the creatures which has produced for the work of
Landseer so immense a popularity. Not less admirable, and of still
greater interest, is the poster designed to advertise the performances
of Yvette Guilbert at the Ambassadeurs. Amongst the numerous artists to
whom the Sarah Bernharct of the music-halls has given commissions none
has been more successful than Steinlen. The poster represents the singer
behind the footlights in an attitude pre-eminently characteristic. The
thing does not amount to a caricature, as does the hitherto unpublished
delineation of Toulouse-Lautrec, but is merely a slightly exaggerated
portrait. It is remarkably suggestive of a most alluring and delightful

[Illustration: 0118]

[Illustration: 0120]

personality. As an advertisement, it must be confessed, it is not all
that could be desired. The colour scheme, while very dainty, is not one
which insists on its presence on the hoardings, so that the proximity
of (for example) a Chéret renders it to some extent ineffective. At
the same time, it is one of the most charming designs of the kind in
existence, and no collector should fail to possess himself of a copy. It
exists in three states: proofs before letters pulled in two tints only,
ordinary proofs before letters, and prints after letters. In the former
state it is rapidly increasing in value, but, insomuch as the lettering
is of the essence of the design, the final state is the most desirable
of all. To advertise an exhibition of his own work, Steinlen produced
another study of cats, which is almost as agreeable as the "Lait pur."
It is in two states: proofs before and after letters. The artist's
design for the watering-place, Vernet-les-Bains, is not very important,
but his early "Mothu et Doria," in three states, should not be
overlooked. Earlier in date than any of the designs I have discussed
is the "Trouville" and "Le Rêve." The latter is a pretty composition
reproduced in chromotypo-gravure. While the posters of Steinlen are not
so striking on the hoarding as those of some of his contemporaries, they
are of the highest artistic interest, and will no doubt take a place
second to none in the affections of many collectors. It is significant
that already the rarest of them are by no means easy to procure.

The art of Ibels is as little comprised in the poster as that of
Steinlen. It is happily characteristic of young artists of the present
day, both here and in France, that painting is not the only god of their
aesthetic adoration:

they experiment in many mediums, and it is really remarkable in how
great a number of such experiments they succeed. What is generally true,
is especially so of H. G. Ibels. Like Grasset, he has held an exhibition
of his pictures at the Salon des Cent; he has made his mark in the
galleries of the Champs de Mars; he has designed the covers of several
pieces of music, and of a volume of poems by his brother, entitled
"Chansons Colorées"; in addition, he is well-known as a book
illustrator. His point of view is somewhat akin to that of
Toulouse-Lautrec: he is passionately interested in his own moment, and
depicts modern life with similar insistence on its ugly and grotesque
aspects. And yet Ibels rarely fails to be decorative, and his style is
the outcome of his own artistic personality, rather than the result of
study of the work of other men. In his posters he has been conspicuously
successful; so much so, that it is difficult to point to a single
failure, though, it must be remembered, that as yet his productions have
not been very numerous. It is possible

[Illustration: 0124]

[Illustration: 0126]

that with some the "Mévisto à l'Horloge" will be deemed his best design,
but it can in no sense be considered his most original. It represents
the actor as Pierrot, and is graceful and pleasing rather than
characteristic; indeed, one would almost think that in designing it the
artist had been at pains to conceal his personality. Nor is the "Salon
des Cent"-a charming and delicate little lithograph-in spite of
the ingenuity and fantasy of its grouping of Pierrot, Harlequin and
Columbine, the most noteworthy of Ibels' posters. We see him at his
most original, in an advertisement for the illustrated paper entitled
"l'Escar-mouche," to which he, together with Lautrec, Vuillard,
Willette, and Anquetin, contributed drawings. It represents a café of
the lower class, such as abounds in the workmen's quarter of Paris.
The enormously fat _patron_ enthroned behind the metal-topped bar, the
waitress, cloth in hand, clad in her slovenly dress, the _ouvriers_ in
typical blue blouses, are studies in which accurate portraiture has been
but slightly sacrificed to grotesqueness. The whole scene is admirably
conceived, and the colour scheme, though very restrained, is certainly
telling. Those who can do so should secure a proof before letters of
this work, for the lettering is, I believe, not by the artist himself,
and mars the effect of the design, although not in a very marked degree.
Another interesting bill is that done for Mévisto's performances at the
Scala music-hall; this is of great size and striking originality. But if
grotesque force, and the power of reducing scenes of modern lower-class
life into decoration, are Ibels' most pronounced characteristics, he
can produce posters of the suavest charm. Amongst all the _affiches_ I
know, none seems to me more delightful than this artist's "Irène Henry."
The _café chantant_ singer whom it represents is justly a popular
favourite with the Parisian public from the fact that she infuses into
her performances no small amount of personality; moreover, her art is
marked by grace and finish. Those who would see her as she appears to
audiences at the Horloge, without going there, have only to look at
Ibels' poster. With the rarest felicity, he has caught her physical
individuality. She is represented in the act of singing in the open air
to a crowd in the _café_, lighted by the familiar circle of white lamps.
The line of the figure is most expressive: violet is the predominating
colour. This poster is worthy a place in the French music hall series,
which includes those designed by Lautrec for Jane Avril, by Steinlen
for Yvette Guilbert, and by an artist whom I am about to consider,
Anque-tin, for Marguerite Dufay.

So far as I know, Anquetin has only produced two _affiches_ of
importance, but each

[Illustration: 0130]

[Illustration: 0132]

of them is worthy of the closest attention. The design for Marguerite
Dufay is a piece of triumphant vulgarity. The subject is a very simple
one; it is merely a woman of almost impossible fatness who performs at
various Parisian music-halls on the trombone. Having stated this, one
has, however, given no idea of the extraordinary qualities of this bill.
It is safe to say that, once seen, it will never be forgotten; it should
have made the fortune of the performer whom it advertises. The mirth
of the thing is victorious and infectious; one seems almost to hear the
coarse laugh; the ample body in the green dress seems to move as one
stares at it. In line, in movement, this poster is, from a certain point
of view, a veritable masterpiece. An advertisement which is, it seems
to me, altogether more worthy of Anquetin's great talent is one designed
for "Le Rire," a recently issued journal. It is an extremely fine
lithograph in a single printing, and, as at present it can be procured
for a few shillings, it should be in the possession, not only of those
who care for posters as such, but also of all who are amateurs of the
beautiful art of lithography. In the foreground is the figure of a huge
man in mediaeval costume, which, while touched with the grotesque, is
splendidly flamboyant At his side he carries a large portfolio, adorned
with a grinning mask, while his hands, which are admirably drawn, point
towards a crowd of grinning pigmies beneath him. Every one of the crowd
is extremely expressive, and the effect of the whole production is
enhanced by very excellent lettering. It would be difficult to meet
with two _affiches_ more interesting than the "Marguerite Dufay" and
"Le Rire," and they place Anquetin amongst the masters of the art of the
poster.

If Anquetin is an artist of marked originality, so, in a manner totally
different, is Pierre Bonnard. Save in the small number of his posters,
he resembles Anquetin in hardly anything; on the other hand, his work
has points of similarity with the later work of Lautrec. The posters of
both these artists are decorative in a curious and somewhat similar sort
of way, decorative in spite of their marked grotesqueness. Between the
"Confetti" of Lautrec and the "Revue Blanche" of Bonnard there is a
distinct decorative affinity. As both of them are dated the same year,
1894, it is needless to suggest that either of these intensely personal
artists has derived anything from the other; there is, indeed, no
evidence whatsoever of imitation, or even influence. Of the two
best-known posters of Bonnard, the "France Champagne" is the earlier
in point of time, having been published in 1891. It is a lithograph
in three colours, and represents an extraordinarily fantastic, and
extremely _décolletée_ girl, who holds in one hand a

[Illustration: 0136]

[Illustration: 0138]

[Illustration: 0140]

[Illustration: 0142]

closed fan, and in the other an overflowing glass of champagne, which
tumbles about her in a great cascade of foam. The background is yellow
and the girl's dress red, while the upper part of the design is occupied
by the arms of Paris and the text in large letters. The draughtsmanship
is curious and vivacious, and the colouring conspicuously successful.
This poster is not large, measuring as it does, only thirty-two by
twenty-nine inches. The "Revue Blanche," though of nearly the same size,
is much more complicated. In the foreground is a woman in huge hat
and cape, which partly conceal her face, at whom an extraordinarily
grotesque street urchin points his finger. The background is composed of
innumerable advertisements of the _revue_, which a man in a great coat
and silk hat, with his back to the spectator, is reading attentively.
All the figures are in a sort of slate colour. The legend is admirably
introduced into the foreground by means of huge white letters. Owing to
the curiosity of its decoration, this specimen of Bonnard's work is a
most desirable possession for the collector.

It has been the good fortune of Valloton to produce at least one poster
which is excellent from every point of view. Nothing more appropriate to
the advertisement of a frivolous burlesque than his "Ah! la Pé. la Pé,
la pépinièré" could well be imagined. It represents a characteristic
audience at a

[Illustration: 0146]

[Illustration: 0148]

[Illustration: 0150]

[Illustration: 0153]

theatre convulsed with laughter at what is taking place on the stage.
The variety of expression on the faces of the spectators is infinite,
and the effect of the whole thing is as mirthful as may be. From the
advertiser's point of view, I can conceive nothing more completely
satisfactory. It exists in colours and in black, and the latter is the
rarer. The same artist's "Carte de Paris" would seem already to have
become scarce. It is a large lithograph in one colour; an example was
shown at the Poster Exhibition at the Royal Aquarium. There is also a
large address card designed by Valloton for M. Sagot. While this is not
actually a poster it almost amounts to one, and were it to be executed
on a large scale, it would doubtless be most successful. It is to be
hoped that Valloton, encouraged by his universally recognized success
in the art of the poster, will not altogether give up its practice in
favour of those other branches of art in which he is distinguished.

The style of De Feure, if not so well adapted to poster work as that of
some of his contemporaries, is nevertheless very interesting. His most
characteristic effort is, perhaps, the "Salon des Cent, 5e Exposition."
This design is very modern and very fantastic. It exists in three
states--proofs before letters on vellum, proofs on Japanese paper, and
ordinary prints. The proofs before letters command very good prices.
Amongst the other posters of De Feure is that done for the performance
of the singer, Edmée Lescaut, at the Casino de Paris; for the newspaper
"Le Diablotin"; and for the "Paris Almanach." In addition, we must not
overlook the pleasant little design for the contents bill of a special
issue of "To-Day."

The posters of Lucien Métivetare of very unequal merit. On the one
hand the designs done by him for Eugénie Buffet, in her realistic
_répertoire_ of songs, are extremely distinguished. While, on the other,
I could point to examples by this artist which are utterly unworthy
his talent. Amongst Métivet's earlier works are "La Famille, journal
hebdomadaire illustré," and "L'Hygiène." A more recent bill advertises
"Les Joyeuses commères de Paris," but Métivet's talent is seen at its
best in the Eugénie Buffet advertisements, two studies worthy a place
amongst the best posters which have come from the hands of contemporary
French artists.



CHAPTER V.--IN FRANCE: THE WORK OF GUILLAUME, PALEOLOGUE, CHOU-BRAC

BOUTET DE MONVEL, AMAN-JEAN, SCHWÆBE, SINET, JOSSOT, MAYET, AND OTHERS


|Prominent among the French designers of posters with whom I have not
previously dealt is Guillaume, an artist widely known in England by
reason of the admirable illustrations which, from time to time, appear
in our periodicals. Save Chéret and Choubrac, few artists have done so
much poster work as Guillaume, and not many have maintained so high a
level of accomplishment. Vigour, vivacity, and high spirits, rather than
beautiful design and fine colour, are the characteristic qualities of
posters by Guillaume. He is, it seems to me, seen at his best in the
admirable "Extrait de Viande Armour," which is reproduced here. In its
way, and looking to the thing to be advertised, nothing better has been
done. The gigantic "strong man," with his huge torso, colossal arms
and legs, holding a tiny teacup in his immense hands, is not easily
forgotten. The expression on the man's face is inimitable, and the
accessories, such as cannons and dumbbells, are most appropriately
chosen. The "Chapeaux l'elion" is a more complicated design,
representing a crowd of men wearing hats of every conceivable shape.
The colour of this design is very good, but its chief merit lies in the
facial expression of the different members of the crowd. It would be
impossible to conceive any single person in a hat other than the one
he is wearing. In another excellent poster we are presented with a
very _fin-de-siècle_ young lady riding astride a stork which bears her
rapidly through space. It would be hopeless to attempt anything like a
complete list of Guillaume's posters, but among the most recent are
the following, all of which deserve the attention of the collector:
"Dentifrices du Dr. Bonn," "Gigolette," "Old England," "Le Pôle
Nord," "Cycles Vincent fils," "Le Vin d'Or" (in two sizes, unsigned),
"Parfumerie Diaphane; le Diaphane Sarah Bernhardt," "L'ouvre de Rabelais
par J. Gamier," and "Ducreux et Giralduc (Ambassadeurs)".

Although a Frenchman, the work of Jean de Paleologue, or "Pal," as he is
more frequently called, is perhaps better known to the Londoner than to
the Parisian. His

[Illustration: 0159]

[Illustration: 0161]

[Illustration: 0163]

[Illustration: 0165]

bright and flippant posters can be seen any day on the London hoardings,
and I have, therefore, purposely selected for reproduction two examples
in his less usual manner. The "Lucile Wraim" is of an elegance to which
Paleologue does not often attain, and would be distinguished in almost
any collection of posters. "The Euskal Jai Parisien," besides being a
good advertisement, is curious on account of its subject. Collectors who
would possess a more typical example of Paleologue's work would be well
advised to secure one or more of his music-hall series or his "Cabourg,"
an advertisement for the watering-place of that name. It is a large
lithograph in five colours, and represents a very charming lady who,
while bathing, is bent upon displaying her charms to the utmost.
While Paleologue can in no sense be compared to Chéret in his gift of
diffusing joyousness and gaiety, his work is undoubtedly "chic," and
rarely fails in its first business of advertisement. Some of his posters
have become difficult to procure, notably one designed for a Drury Lane
pantomime some few years since.

No artist, save Jules Chéret, has been more indefatigable in the making
of posters than Choubrac. The list given in M. Maindron's book is a
long one; that given in the catalogues of M. Sagot is still longer. The
posters of Choubrac do not seem to have received so much attention
at the hands of collectors as those of some of his better-known
contemporaries. At the same time, not a few of them are interesting and
rare. The bill done for the "Fin de Siècle" was suppressed, and, as
a consequence, is in great demand. It exists in four states, three of
which, in good condition, command no less than fifty francs. Merely to
give the names of the music-halls and theatres for which Choubrac has
worked would take up the better part of a page, while a list of the
_artistes_ whom he has advertised would be still longer. Amongst the
most noticeable of his recent bills are the following: "Eldorado.
Y'a pas d'erreur," "Folies Bergère. Armand Ary," "Folies Bergère.
Programme," "Folies Dramatiques. Miss Robinson," "Moulin Rouge. Au
Joyeux," "Neuilly-sur-Seine. Fête des fleurs," and "Gaieté. Rosa et
Josepha" (in two states).

An artist more unlike Choubrac than Maurice Boutet de Monvel it would
be assuredly impossible to find, and the fact that these names are in
juxtaposition must be taken as proof that no systematic arrangement
has been attempted in this chapter. Boutet de Monvel is a painter of
European reputation. His fame as an illustrator for, and a delineator
of, children stands very high. His studies of child-life are unlike those
of any other artist. They display the keenest observation and, as Mr.
Pennell has rightly observed, one finds in them not a line without

[Illustration: 0169]

[Illustration: 0171]

meaning. Boutet de Monvel has, I believe, produced only three posters.
Two of them are among the most charming things seen on the Paris
hoardings for

[Illustration: 0173]

many a long day. Both of these are comparatively small. That which is
earlier in date, "Petite Poucette," was originally designed as a cover
for a piece of music, but, when reproduced on a larger scale, was
found to be thoroughly effective as a poster. More dainty, if not more
characteristic of the art of Boutet de Monvel, is the "Pâte Dentifrice
du Dr. Pierre." In this design, one of the prettiest and most delightful
little ladies in the whole Monvel gallery of pretty little ladies
insists on the merit of the tooth-paste which, if it be half as good as
she is charming, must be excellent indeed. Every artist knows his own
business best, but one can only hope that, in what leisure he can snatch
from his work in paint and illustration, Boutet de Monvel will place
the collector of posters under new obligations to him. His note as a
decorator of the hoardings is as distinct as it is agreeable.

A very interesting figure in modern design is undoubtedly Carloz
Schwæbe. One of the leading lights of that curious institution the
"Salon Rose + Croix," it would indeed be curious if Schwæbe did anything
commonplace. His posters are as remarkable as those other productions
with which he has delighted some and puzzled not a few. Mystic, slightly
archaic, they are the work of a man of poetical temperament who
has chosen the graphic arts instead of literature as his means of
expression. The two posters from his hand are very decorative in their
strange way, and contain passages of great beauty. In the

[Illustration: 0175]

[Illustration: 0177]

kneeling woman is remarkably impressive, while the irises amidst which
she kneels are beautifully drawn. The lettering of this poster is most
original, and the designer has evidently taken great pains with it. It
is a lithograph in two colours, and measures forty-two and a half by
thirty-one and a half inches. Schwæbe's larger poster, the "Salon Rose +
Croix," is in one colour only, and is a good example of his work. So
far this curiously-gifted artist has confined himself to advertising a
concert and a picture show; it is not to be expected that he will ever
condescend to soap or extract of beef. Another of the Rose + Croix men,
Aman-Jean, has done a poster for the Salon which rivals in curiosity the
productions of Schwæbe himself.

A little advertisement which had, it may well be, some influence on the
poster movement in England, was that by which André Sinet advertised an
exhibition of his own works held at the Goupil Gallery in 1893. This
was an attractive little bit of design of which the colour was very
agreeable. In addition to it, Sinet has done the inevitable poster for
Yvette Guilbert. Another painter of talent who has made an advertisement
for an exhibition of his own work is H. Guérard. It represents a group
of ravens and is in poker work. It would appear to be rare, as it is
quoted in none of the catalogues. A copy, exhibited at the Aquarium in
1894, is in the collection of Mr. Ernest Hart. Still another artist who

[Illustration: 0179]

[Illustration: 0181]

[Illustration: 0183]

[Illustration: 0185]

has, I believe, done only one poster, is Goissaud. His design was to
advertise the "Société des miniaturistes et enlumineurs de France," and
is a lithograph in one colour. Among the Salon des Cent series we have,
besides the admirable posters of Grasset and Ibels already alluded to,
a very grotesque and effective little design by Jossot. It represents an
amazing old gentleman of weird aspect, in cocked hat, paying his franc
for admission to the exhibition. Of its kind it is effective enough.
Another, by Cazoly, with a curious portrait of Paul Verlaine is
reproduced here.

It is certainly with no view to hurt the feelings of those artists whose
names do not head this chapter that they are represented by a mere
_et cetera_. It must be understood that one of the least polite of
contractions, in this case, involves no discourtesy whatsoever.

For example, I may instance such able work as Grün's "Le Carillon:
cabaret artistique." Few posters are more vivid or more actual than
this. The price of it is a matter of pence, and it should certainly not
be neglected by those whom it amuses to collect the _affiche illustré_.
Grün, in addition to "Le Carillon," has produced "Poléon-Revue:
Décadent's Concert," and in addition a design for an insurance company.
One of the most charming of the more recent French posters is one by H.
Gray, dealing with "La Prétentaine," a play produced some time ago at
the Nouveau Théâtre. In addition he has advertised "La Bonita" at
the Cirque d'Eté, "Les Mousquetaires," at the same place, "Les
Saltimbanques" at the Cirque d'Hiver, and the _bal masqué_ at
the Théâtre de l'Opéra. The last is perhaps the best known of his
_affiches_. Among others, Bac has done a poster for Yvette Guilbert at
the Horloge, which is signed and dated 1892. The bicycling craze has
called into existence a perfect torrent of posters, and Bac, together
with Gray, Guillaume, Lunel, and Paleologue, have produced posters of
more or less interest. A gentleman who is sufficiently modest not
to state his name, did a design which called forth the wrath of the
authorities. Whereupon an artist called Lepur designed an _affiche_
bearing the significant legend, of which this is a translation: "Grand
choice of vine-leaves (fig-leaves) of all sizes for posters, as demanded
by the virtuous journals, the 'T(emps '), the 'G(aulois '), and the
'D(ébats ')."

The following is a list, with the names of typical examples of their
work, of some other French artists of distinction who have designed
posters: Barbizet ("La branche cassée"), Bouisset (F.) ("Bazar de
l'Hôtel-de-Ville," "Exposition de jouets," "Chocolat Menier"),
Desicy (H.) ("Un héritage, roman"), Dutriac ("Ambassadeurs: Danseuses
Espagnols"), Faria ("Ba-ta-clan: [Illustration: 0189] Paulus"), Dufay
("Portrait,") ("Les Rey Nol's)," Galice (G.) ("Concert parisien: Esther
Lekain," "Fête des Fleurs," "Paulan Brébion," "Scala: Jeanne Bloch"),
Guydo ("Eldorado: Aimée Eymard"), Honer ("Concert parisien: Bonnaire"),
Hope ("Gaieté: Tour de Nesle"), Huvey ("Gras-side"), Lamy (L.) ("Le
capitaine Henriot, opéra comique," "Théâtre national lyrique"), Lebégue
(L.) ("Bals travestes et tableaux vivants"), Lefèvre (L.) ("Cacao
lacté," "Electricine," "L'hiver à Nice"), Levy (E.) ("Châtelet Michel
Strogoff," "Cirque d'Hiver: Caravane dans le désert," "Folies Bergère:
Vue de la salle," "Petit national: Le prince Mouffetard"), Meunier (G.)
("Papier à cigarettes Job," "Parfumerie Edéa," "Le Sahara à Paris: Champ
de Mars"), Truchet (A.) ("Cabaret des Quat'z' Arts," "Eldorado: Alice
Berthier.")

It will have been noticed already how great apart the music-hall and
the _café chantant_ play in the history of the pictorial poster.
Yvette Guilbert has been the cause of a baker's dozen of _affiches_;
Anna Thibaud (that charming singer of the songs of Béranger); Anna Held,
with her curious manner, and still more curious appearance; Irène Henri,
of intense personality; Jane Avril, and May Belfort; to say nothing of
Aristide Bruant, of Caudieux, of Paulus, and the rest of the school who
have made the music-hall stage of France a matter of no small importance

[Illustration: 0191]

in her social life, have been favourite subjects of the designers
of posters. It has always been held that the career of an actor, in
consideration of its evanescence, is not

[Illustration: 0193]

without a certain pathos. It is true that we remember, through the
gossip of their friends, Garrick and Mrs. Siddons, Talma and Rachel, but
even these are uncertain phantoms lingering in the haze of memory. Only
yesterday they were intensely actual, to-day they are not more real than
Burbage and Betterton. After all, the history of the actor's art is not
without its immortals. Macaulay's schoolboy could doubtless have related
the compliment of Dr. Johnson to Mrs. Siddons: the latest escapade of
the great Sarah is the joy of the paragrapher. The music-hall, however,
has still no artist in any country (save, perhaps, the unforgettable
Yvette) who has much chance of permanent remembrance. But when the toil
and moil of existence is ended, when the singer has sung his last song,
it may chance that he will be remembered because some collector of such
unconsidered trifles as picture posters has placed in his portfolio a
work of Chéret or of Lautrec.

To turn from the music-halls to the great railway companies is an
emphatic transition, and yet the former, no less than the latter have
done much to encourage the artist to apply his talent to the _affiche_.
The Great Western Railway Company have illustrated at their stations and
in their carriages, by means of photography, all that is romantic and
interesting in the country through which their line runs. And, again,
the great lines of the United States have brought into vogue vast
systems of pictorial advertisement. Their opportunity was undoubtedly a
magnificent one. For subject

[Illustration: 0195]

[Illustration: 0197]

matter they had some of those vast natural developments which appeal to
mere man as absolutely terrific. The waterfall, splashing itself into
luminous dust, the immense and silent mountains, the lakes which are
seas, the vasty canons which occur in different parts of the States,
inevitably appeal to the imagination. It is therefore not wonderful that
the great lines of America have preferred literal and exact illustration
to fantastic delineation. The railways of France, on the other hand,
have employed to no inconsiderable extent the artist to figure the
beauties of the places at which they have stations. Amongst the most
important French designers who have worked at the railway _affiche_
are:-Fraipont (G.): ("Chemin de fer de l'Etat: Bains de mer de Royan":
"Royan sur l'Océan," "Chemin de fer d'Orléans: Excursions en Tou-raine":
"Excursions en Touraine et aux châteaux des bords de la Loire," "Chemin
de fer de l'Ouest: Argenteuil à Mantes," "Cie de l'Ouest et de Brighton:
Fleurs, fruits, primeurs à destination de Londres," "Paris à Londres
(L'Angleterre et l'Ecosse)" "Chemin de fer du Nord: Excursions à la
mer," "Chemin de fer de l'Est: Royat," "Chemin de fer de l'Ouest:
Bretagne, Normandie," "Normandie et Bretagne," "Chemin de fer de l'Ouest
à Brighton: Paris à Londres," "Chemin de fer du Nord: Anvers, Exposition
universelle.") Ochoa: ("Club Train," "Méditerranée," "Express (Cie Int.
des wagons-lits)," "Orient-Express," "Peninsular-Express"). Hugo d'Alési
(_affiches_ simili-aquarelles): "Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Algérie,"
"Genève," "L'hiver à Nice," (two subjects), "Lac de Thoune,"
"Mont Revard," "Le Mont Rose," "Le Puy," "Tunisie," "La Turbie,"
"Uriage-les-Bains," "Chemin de fer du Midi: Pyrénées," "Chemin de fer
d'Orléans: Excursions en Auvergne" (1894), "La Creuse et l'Indre,"
"Chemin de fer de l'Ouest: Dieppe," "L'Auvergne (Orléans)." Lefèvre
(L.): "Nord. Eté a Cobourg," "Orléans Excursions aux Pyrénées," "Bains
de mer du Golfe de Gascogne," "Ouest Excursions sur les côtes de
Normandie, en Bretagne, et à l'île de Jersey." Among other designers for
French railway companies and watering-places may be named Orazi, whose
"Trouville" poster is reproduced on p. 181, Balzer, Baylac, Japhet, and
Ogé.

[Illustration: 0201]

[Illustration: 0203]



CHAPTER VI.--IN ENGLAND: FROM FRED WALKER TO DUDLEY HARDY

|While the pictorial poster undoubtedly existed in England previous to
the production of Fred Walker's "Woman in White," its artistic qualities
were conspicuous by their absence. No body of artists who designed
posters, such as that of which Ga-varni was one in France, is to be met
with in the history of English art until the present day. While, as Mr.
Spielmann reminds us in a recent magazine article, Mr. Godfroy Durand
and Mr. Walter Crane had both attempted the artistic _affiche_ previous
to Walker, the efforts of neither made a pronounced impression, nor were
they productive of permanent results. The work of the first of these
three artists announced the appearance of the then newly-founded
"Graphic," and that of Mr. Walter Crane proclaimed the merits of a brand
of lead pencils. It is interesting, as an example of Mr. Crane's immense
versatility in decorative design, that he should be among the pioneers
of the poster movement in this country. That his early effort was
overshadowed by Walker's very imposing work is not a matter of surprise.
From the first, Walker appears to have been deeply impressed by the
possibilities of the hoardings as a free art gallery. To use his own
words, as quoted by Mr. Spielmann: "I am impressed on doing all I
can with a first attempt at what I consider might develop into a most
important branch of art." How Walker's view has been realized the mere
existence of this book is sufficient to prove. This design, which
was done to advertise Wilkie Collins's novel, "The Woman in White,"
represents a magnificently-draped female figure stepping through a door
out into the night. With one hand she opens the door, with the other
she imposes silence on some person unseen. This was cut on wood by W. H.
Hooper, who also engraved the small block we are permitted to reproduce
here from "The Magazine of Art." The design is in black and white, and
has the limitations from the advertising point of view of black and
white work; but, apart from this, it is in every way a work which
could not fail to impress the passer-by. "The Woman in White" is,
unfortunately, Walker's sole essay in the art of the poster; on the
other hand, Mr. Walter Crane has produced a series which, we may hope,
has yet to close. It would seem that over ten years elapsed between his
first and second attempts in the art of the poster. We meet with him for
the second time in a design in blue and yellow

[Illustration: 0207]

which advertised the Covent Garden Promenade Concerts given in 1880.
This has become extremely rare, and the artist himself does not, I
believe, possess a copy. Following the Covent Garden bill was one
announcing the performances in London of the Paris Hippodrome Troupe.
This is merely an enlargement on a vast scale of a classical drawing
intended to adorn a book describing the show, but it is distinctly
interesting, more so, it seems to me, than the pretty little coloured
thing-a window-bill, rather than a poster-which advertises Hau's
champagnes. Other posters by Mr. Crane deal with an exhibition of
his own works, with various insurance companies, with the "English
Illustrated Magazine" (an enlarged version of the cover), and the
exhibitions of the Arts and Crafts Society. It will be seen that Mr.
Crane's contribution to the art of the poster is a very substantial one,
and if his designs do not always fulfil the sweet uses of advertisement,
they are generally marked by fine taste. It is a matter of common
knowledge that Professor Herkomer has left hardly any art or craft
untouched, and it therefore goes without saying that he has left some
of them unadorned. To succeed as painter, etcher, carver, musician, poet
and playwright, lecturer, and actor is not given to mere man. Professor
Herkomer's posters cannot, I think, be considered among his more
fortunate performances. That done for "The Magazine of Art" does not
lack a certain feeling for composition: the weird

[Illustration: 0209]

[Illustration: 0211]

[Illustration: 0213]

[Illustration: 0215]

creature who told us that "Black and White" was coming seemed to me
to lack both dignity and grace, and, moreover, to possess very few
compensating qualities. Amongst other posters by Professor Herkomer
is one for his own exhibition, and one for an exhibition of pictures
recently held at Oxford.

It should be noted that while most of the mural decorations of Mr. Crane
and Professor Herkomer are, strictly speaking, posters, in that they
were designed for the hoardings and for the hoardings alone, a great
many designs and pictures by eminent artists have been reproduced and
posted contrary to the original intention of their designers. The most
prominent of these is, of course, Sir John Millais' famous "Bubbles,"
on the reproduction of which enormous sums have been spent. The thing is
pretty enough, but cannot compete as an advertisement with a really good
poster properly so called. Of course the name of Sir John Millais was
one to conjure with, and the success of the thing has been, doubtless,
great. But it is not an experiment one cares to see frequently repeated.
Messrs. Pears were more happily inspired in the commission which they
gave to Mr. Stacy Marks to produce a _bona fide_ poster. His "Monks
Shaving," seems to be most excellently conceived, and, indeed, to be the
most interesting of Messrs. Pears

[Illustration: 0219]

[Illustration: 0221]

gallery of illustrated advertisements. Art has certainly played a very
prominent part in the battle of the soaps. Mr. G. D. Leslie used his
gifts to insist on the merits of the Sunlight brand, while Mr. Burton
Barber pleaded pictorially for the Lifebuoy brand. A curious bit of
poster-making was the reproduction of a random sketch of a girl sitting
on a champagne cork, by Mr. Linley Sambourne, which seems to meet us at
every turning. Again, Mr. Harry Furniss's man who had used Pears'
soap years back, "and since then had used no other," is an enlarged
reproduction used for advertising purposes of a drawing in "Punch."
On the other hand, the "Minerva," which Mr. Poynter designed for the
Guardian Assurance Company, was actually devised for the purpose of a
mural advertisement. It cannot be strictly called a poster, insomuch as
it is never seen in the open air unless glazed. It is a classical
design in several colours, and is of a very elaborate character. For the
purpose of exhibition indoors, it is glazed and mounted on linen with
rollers. Another contemporary English painter who has received very high
official recognition and has done a poster is Sir James Linton, P.R.I.
His subject was assuredly an attractive one, "Antony and Cleopatra," but
it can hardly be maintained that, for an artist of so great repute, he
has produced an especially memorable design. It is a lithograph in one
colour, and measures fifty by fifty-two inches. Its date is 1874, so it
is clear that Sir James Linton is among the little band who tried to do
something for the pictorial poster in

England when it was held of no account. Mr. Charles Green, a member
of the institution of which Sir James is president, produced a rather
ingenious advertisement of an exhibition of works in black and white
held some time ago in Mosley Street. It

[Illustration: 0223]

[Illustration: 0226]

is not very large, and is a lithograph in one colour.

It will be observed that the artistic poster was in the air in England
not very long after it began to develop in France. It does not, however,
seem to have taken so great a hold on English artists or on the English
public as on the artists and public of France. In England the artistic
poster appears to have been received coldly or with indifference,
and doubtless many designers who would have been glad to turn their
attention to the poster were deterred therefrom by lack of public
sympathy. But all this has happily been changed, and if the number of
poster designers is to continue increasing at the present rate, the
difficulty will be, not to find the artistic advertiser, but to find
the thing to be advertised. A crowd of clever young men, actuated by the
success which met the efforts of the designers dealt with in the next
chapter, have rushed to the poster with results altogether important.



CHAPTER VII.--IN ENGLAND: THE WORK OF DUDLEY HARDY, AUBREY BEARDSLEY

AND MAURICE GREIFFENHAGEN

|The English artists of established reputation with whom I dealt in the
last chapter, were, as we saw, so anxious to inform their posters with
aesthetic qualities, that for the most part, they overlooked the obvious
fact that their work was vain unless it really fulfilled its primary
purpose of advertising. It was left for the three men (all of
comparatively recent reputation) whose names head this chapter, to give
the right direction; to insist that not art, but advertisement, was the
first essential. It is not for an instant to be pretended that their
achievement equals in importance that of the three designers discussed
in a corresponding chapter in the section of this book devoted to
France. Quantity of production, it is true, is a small matter in art;
and yet, in so far as quantity of production entails experience, one
is forced to take it into consideration. The success of a man who has
produced a hundred posters, or more, is scarcely to be expected of
a designer, however ingenious, who is only making his first attempt.
Moreover, to an artist accustomed to work on a small scale, it is a
matter of extreme difficulty to appreciate, and when in the throes of
production to keep in mind, the essentials of a design intended to
be seen at a considerable distance, in the open air. He is apt to
be tempted into pretty detail or subtle and harmonious colour, and
therefore to forget that he should be simple almost to the point of
crudeness. Under these circumstances, it is not less remarkable than it
is encouraging, that Mr. Hardy, Mr. Beardsley, and Mr. Greiffenhagen in
their earliest essays apprehended the situation at once, and produced
posters which inevitably caught the eye of the beholder and created an
impression which remained with him for a considerable time. Differing in
all else, the first designs of these three artists were alike, in that
they were admirable advertisements. From every hoarding in London,
from the walls of every station on the Underground Railway, one was
vehemently called upon to purchase a new weekly, or a new series of an
old one, or to visit the Avenue Theatre. If the call was resisted, it
was assuredly no fault of these artist-advertisers. To suggest that what
they have done would have been impossible,

[Illustration: 0230]

[Illustration: 0231]

or at least improbable, if France had not paved the way, is scarcely
to discount their immediate and unequivocal success: even the greatest
artist is unwise if he does not condescend to make use of the work of
the past.

It is, I think, Mr. Dudley Hardy who, of the three artists named, owes
most to France. He has made a variation, a very personal and alluring
variation, be it said, of a theme essentially Gallic in its unrestrained
gaiety, its reckless joyousness. There is something of Chéret, and there
is even more of Jan Van Beers, in the end-of-the-century girl, elegant
as she is impudent, whom Mr. Hardy depiéts with such amazing verve and
abandon. She is too light-hearted, too irresponsible, to be a daughter
of this land of grey and rainy skies; she takes nothing seriously, save
perchance a detail of her costume. And yet she is stamped with Mr.
Hardy's personality as thoroughly as are the charming _Parisiennes_ of
Chéret with the individuality of their inventor. Mr. Hardy began,
and began wisely, by trusting for his effect to a single bold figure.
Elaborate composition implies detail, and detail is one of the pitfalls
of the designer of posters. Take, for example, the vast sheets which
were employed to advertise one of the spectacles at Olympia. The
overcrowding of small figures and closely-realized views either produced
no impression whatsoever on the spectator, or at the most an impression
due entirely to the immensity of the sheets. Mr. Hardy's series of
posters commenced most auspiciously with that audacious young lady in
a yellow dress, saucy hat, and flying black boa, who, not deigning to
entreat, compelled the passer-by to rush to the nearest bookstall for a
copy of Mr. Jerome's weekly "To-Day." Later, in similar vein, came
the dashing girl in red, used by the manager of the Prince of Wales's
Theatre to insist on the merits of "A Gaiety Girl." It may be doubted
whether any more effective mural advertisement has ever been seen in
London than that formed by half-a-dozen copies of this poster, arranged
in the manner of a frieze in front of the theatre during the run of the
piece. If the idea was that of the bill-sticker, the man was a genius
of his kind: I cannot help suspecting, however, that the striking
arrangement was due to Mr. Hardy himself. Or perhaps it was the happy
thought of an outsider. In addition to the large "Gaiety Girl" poster,
the two smaller bills which this artist designed to advertise the same
play, full as they were of dash and go, must not be overlooked. To the
collector they have a merit which he will not fail to appreciate. They
are of manageable size, and this is more than can be said of most of Mr.
Hardy's productions. It must not be thought, however, that

[Illustration: 0234]

Mr. Hardy can do no more than repeat with slight variety of detail the
_chic_ girl to whom he first introduced us; already, notwithstanding
the comparatively small number of his designs, he has shown a very
commendable versatility. The proprietors of "St. Paul's," in the days
when that journal regaled its readers on the portraits, not of dancing
girls, but of right reverend prelates, commissioned Mr. Hardy for a
large design appropriate to the semi-ecclesiastical character of their
journal. The choice, in view of the "Yellow Girl," was a somewhat
curious one; but the experiment justified itself. The artist rose to the
occasion; on the hoardings of London there appeared a woman of austere,
even saintly, demeanour, clad in sombre robes, and armed with a spike of
the Madonna lily. In spite of the low scheme of colour, the design
was very telling as an advertisement. It has become very rare; indeed,
notwithstanding the fad; that the dealers quote it at various prices in
their catalogues, it may be questioned whether it is to be procured at
all. When the policy of "St. Paul's" was changed--when it stepped down
from its shrine to join the multitude and be of the world, worldly--the
art of Mr. Hardy was once more called in to introduce the paper in
its new guise. For the first time, so far as I know, he attempted
composition. His idea was a happy one. The poster represented a young
lady, evidently light-hearted and of unquestionably fantastic costume,
see-sawing on a quarter of the moon with a gentleman of slight
intellect, but exceedingly smart clothes. Seen under certain conditions
the composition is distinctly effective, but from a long distance it
fails to assert itself as do Mr. Hardy's simpler designs. In his most
recent effort he has returned to the single figure, and he has done
nothing more striking than his bill for "The Chieftain," at the Savoy
Theatre, which represents a man in picturesque costume on a red ground.
The lettering of nearly all Mr. Hardy's posters is admirable. It is
invented by the artist himself, and forms an essential part of the
design. For the rest, it should be remembered that the poster is a mere
incident in Mr. Hardy's art career. As an illustrator he is with us
everywhere; as a painter he is held in deserved esteem. It is to be
hoped, for the sake of the artistic poster in England, that he will
continue to devote some of his time to a branch of art in which, in
comparatively a short time, he has so greatly succeeded.

The art of Mr. Aubrey Beardsley has been so enthusiastically received,
on the one hand, as a new revelation, and so passionately condemned, on
the other, as the mere glorification of a hideous and putrescent aspect
of modern life, that it is difficult to consider his work with calmness.
One thing, however, is certain: an impression

[Illustration: 0238]

[Illustration: 0240]

of some kind, whether agreeable or the reverse, it has undoubtedly left
upon all who have seen it. It cannot be dismissed by stating that it
is derivative rather than original; that to a large extent it is the
outcome of Japan, and in a less degree of the old English school of
caricaturists. Whether it be good or bad, the extraordinary impression
it has made cannot be gainsaid. It is probable that the work of no young
designer of recent times has called forth so much homage of imitation,
so great an amount of that kind of caricature which is among the
sincerest forms of flattery. Mr. Beardsley's eccentricities are so
pronounced, that to parody his work was simply to do the obvious.
From "Punch," august by reason of its fifty years of tradition, to the
poorest comic rag produced to catch the errand-boy's spare halfpenny, is
a far cry; and yet the former, no less than the latter, has treated
its readers to a series of pictorial Beardsleyisms. It would have been
wonderful, indeed, if Mr. Beardsley, who is nothing if not modern, had
not attempted the artistic poster. His opportunity came when the Avenue
Theatre was taken by an enthusiastic and courageous young actress for
the production of plays by living English writers, which, whatever
their fate from the commercial point of view, were at least to possess
definite merits as pieces of literature. In order to advertise Dr.
Todhunter's "Comedy of Sighs," and Mr. G. Bernard Shaw's "Arms and the
Man," Mr. Beardsley excelled himself, and designed perhaps the most
remarkable poster ever seen, up to that time, in London.

Nothing so compelling, so irresistible, had ever been posted on the
hoardings of the metropolis before. Some gazed at it with awe, as if
it were the final achievement of modern art; others jeered at it as
a palpable piece of buffoonery: everybody, however, from the labourer
hurrying in the dim light of the morning to his work, to the prosperous
stockbroker on his way to the "House," was forced to stop and look at
it. Hence, it fulfilled its primary purpose to admiration; it was a
most excellent advertisement. The old theatrical poster represented,
in glaring colours, the hero in a supreme moment of exaltation, or the
heroine in the depths of despair. Mr. Beardsley did not condescend to
illustrate, but produced a design, irrelevant and tantalizing to the
average man, though doubtless full of significance to himself. In many
respects the Avenue bill must be considered the best poster which so far
has come from this artist's hands. The very graceful figure on a small
poster for "The Yellow Book" speaks for itself. It is more vivid,
more curious, than either of the two done for a London publisher. Most
collectors, however, will treasure even more highly

[Illustration: 0244]

[Illustration: 0245]

[Illustration: 0246]

the charming design done by Mr. Beardsley to advertise the Pseudonym
series of short stories. In it we meet with the artist in his less
mordant mood. The sketch of the old bookshop in the background is quite
delightful, and the whole design is less grotesque than most of Mr.
Beardsley's productions. The arrangement in purple and white, which
he did for the same firm, is a very striking performance in his later
manner. Its importance as a poster is, however, seriously discounted
by the fact that the design has nothing whatsoever to do with the text,
which has been added in a manner almost inconceivably clumsy.

The success of Mr. Beardsley in the production of artistic posters has
encouraged a host of imitators, so that it is quite within the bounds
of possibility that he will found something in the nature of a school.
Already, on the other side of the Atlantic, more than one artist has
been inspired by him. The posters of Mr. Bradley, for example, with
which I shall deal later, are unquestionably adaptations, at once
skilful and intelligent, of Mr. Beardsley's decorative manner. Again, to
return to England, the pleasant arrangement in red and white, designed
by Mrs. Dearmer to advertise a recital recently given by her in London,
proves that she has been affected by the simplicity and directness which
are so conspicuous among the merits of Mr. Beardsley in his essays in
the art of the hoarding. Of his many parodists only one, I think, has
actually attempted the poster. The essay in question was made by Mr.
J. Hearn, under the signature of "Weirdsly Daubery," and the result
was very fantastic and amusing. The design was done for some amateur
theatricals at Oxford, and it was curious to

[Illustration: 0248]

[Illustration: 0250]

meet this atom of the so-called decadence flaunting itself, with strange
incongruity, in every nook and corner of "the sweet city of the dreaming
spires."

The case of Mr. Maurice Grieffenhagen is similar to that of Mr. Dudley
Hardy, insomuch as both have been well known for some time to the public
as painters and as the producers of very accomplished work in black and
white. At present Mr. Grieffenhagen, as a designer of posters, can only
be judged by a single production. It may be said at once that nothing
more distinguished, nothing which is less imitative or derivative, has
come from English hands than Mr. Grieffenhagen's advertisement for the
"Pall Mall Budget." Admirable alike in colour and in pattern, the poster
is entirely appropriate to its purpose of keeping before the eyes of the
public a publication which escaped frivolity on the one hand and dulness
on the other. All who watch the development of the artistic poster
in England with interest, cannot but hope that the "Pall Mall Budget"
poster will be the first of a series by the same artist equally
delightful and original.

It is interesting to note that while we are still a long way behind
the French in the matter of the artistic poster, the productions of
the three artists with whom I have just dealt have received a cordial
welcome at the hands of Parisian collectors. In the dealers' shops you
may see Mr. Hardy's "Gaiety Girl" side by side with Lautrec's "Reine
de Joie," while Mr. Grieffenhagen's young lady in red looks with demure
surprise at the antics of her more frivolous sisters, as depicted by
Jules Chéret. There is, again, a steady demand for anything by Mr.
Beardsley, who, it would seem, has already become an established
favourite with French connoisseurs. As we shall see in another chapter,
the prices put in Paris upon English posters compare very favourably
with those at which the works of the ablest French designers are valued.
In matters of art, few cities are more insular and intolerant than the
French metropolis; and those English artists who are devoting themselves
to the poster, should be encouraged by enthusiastic recognition where
enthusiasm was least to be expected.



CHAPTER VIII.--THE WORK OF OTHER CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH DESIGNERS

|Since this book was commenced as the companion, rather than the rival,
of that of M. Maindron, English designers of the poster have multiplied
in a degree altogether phenomenal.

Up to the time in question, as we have already seen, the English
artist who attempted the poster was exceptional. The famine, which was
prevalent only a year or two ago, has become the abundance of today, so
that where one expected a dearth of subject matter, one has in fact an
excess. It seems to me that, apart from the English pioneers, whom we
have already considered, the brothers Beggarstaff, in reality Messrs.
Pryde and Simpson, two young artists, are entitled to the first
place among the makers of the English artistic poster. They have best
appreciated the essence of their business: less than almost any native
designers, they are innocent of any homage of imitation. They have
imitated neither Chéret nor Lautrec: it may well be that they have had
the wisdom to take a hint here and there from both of these masters of
the art of the _affiche_. As yet the hoardings of London are screaming
with the vulgar designs of the advertiser's hack. The admirable art of
the Beggarstaffs is, up to now, infrequently met with. Their curious
advertisement for Sir Henry Irving's production of "Becket," was
eclipsed by that done for the same manager's "Don Quixote," while the
latter has to give place to one intended to announce a special issue of
"Harper's Magazine." All of these force themselves on the collector's
attention. They are at once striking and artistic; they cry their wares
well, and they are a delight to the eyes. The lettering in the Harper
poster is beyond all praise. Of its kind, it is the most beautiful
English lettering of which I know. At the Aquarium Exhibition the
Beggarstaff's showed four posters which advertised Nobody's Blue,
Nobody's Candles, Nobody's Niggers, and Nobody's Pianos. If each
"Nobody" is not rapidly converted into "Somebody," the various
manufacturers and proprietors of the articles mentioned above must be
very stupid people. All were excellent; that which advertised Nobody's
Pianos was a most curious and à most original performance. It seems to
me that the Beggarstaffs have few serious rivals in England, and not
very many in France. Their works should help very

[Illustration: 0256]

considerably in the task of revolutionizing the English pictorial
poster. The

[Illustration: 0258]

impression created by their designs on Frenchmen, who are past masters
in the art of the hoarding, is most favourable.

[Illustration: 8258]

It will be remembered that when Mr. Sickert took it into his head to
depict the Sisters Lloyd in their music-hall habit, the critics fell
out greatly. Even the young ladies in question had, it is said,
scant affection for a design in which everything was suggested and
nothing declared.

They had, it is true, the recompense of advertisement, and that, to a
music-hall singer, is a very sweet recompense. It was characteristic of
Mr. Sickert that he should go to the music-halls for a subject. The "New
English Art Club" is devoted to things which are

[Illustration: 0259]

new and strange, the artistic poster amongst them. Mr. Sickert is not
the only one of the members of this club who have made an essay in the
latest form of applied art. Mr. Beardsley, Mr. R. Anning Bell, and Mr.

[Illustration: 0260]

[Illustration: 0262]

[Illustration: 0264]

Wilson Steer are amongst those of his colleagues who have done the same
thing. Mr. Sickert's poster, which is, I believe, as yet unpublished, is
in four colours. It is calculated to make a good advertisement, and one
can only hope soon to meet with it on the hoardings. As an impressionist
painter of talent, Mr. Wilson Steer is as well known as Mr. Sickert. A
"New English Art Club" Exhibition without his work would be one which
lacked a most characteristic feature. Mr. Steer gave us an opportunity
of appreciating his talent as a painter by organizing a show of his
own work. To advertise this he did a poster, which was excellent of
its kind, and is in consequence very rare. It is a comparatively small
lithograph in four colours, and is quite unlike this artist's other
work. It leans, it seems to me, towards Pre-Raphaelitism rather than
towards Impressionism. An artist who has certainly sat at the feet of
Mr. Whistler is Mr. Mortimer Menpes. To advertise several exhibitions of
his paintings, he has invented at least three posters, which certainly
do not lack the merit of originality. He has abstained from the
frivolous girl and grotesque man. The "France," the "Venice," and the
"India" are in their way considerable achievements in dainty design and
quiet and harmonious colour. Mr. Menpes, by being intentionally simple,
has arrived at notable conspicuity. All this artist's designs are of
small size, and are appropriate rather to the notice board than to the
hoarding. Nothing more opposite to the fastidious productions of Mr.
Menpes could be conceived than the vigorous poster by Mr. Lockhart Bogle
advertising a Scottish Athletic Gathering, held in 1892. This is a large
lithograph, consisting of a single figure of a Highlander, which, if not
remarkably beautiful, is drawn with vigour and with no small accuracy.
Mr. Brangwyn is one of those English painters of whom we are entitled
to be proud. His directness, the audacity of his impressionism, the
splendour (if sometimes ill-considered) of his colour schemes, cannot
be passed over even by those who have slight sympathy with his method.
That, if so inclined, he would produce a poster at once startling and
artistic is not to be denied. The one which he has already designed to
advertise an exhibition of South African pictures by himself and Mr.
William Hunt, held at the Japanese Gallery, is certainly by no means
worthy his remarkable talent, and one trusts that he will cease for
a moment from painting pictures and produce a poster which shall be
memorable in the history of the _affiche_ in England.

Mr. Frank Richards is nothing if not versatile; his exhibition, held
recently at the Dowdeswells' Galleries, came as a surprise to all who
were unacquainted with his

[Illustration: 0268]

[Illustration: 0269]

[Illustration: 0270]

clever painting. In this exhibition his pictures ranged from a large
study of Mr. Clive as "Hamlet" to slight but beautiful studies of Venice
under various atmospheric conditions. In his poster work, of which at
present little has been seen, Mr. Richards shows that, to some extent,
he is under the influence of Mr. Dudley Hardy. Mr. Richards, no less
than Mr. Hardy, is undeniably up to date, and his work is really
effective. Among the most recent additions to the ranks of our popular
illustrators is Mr. Lewis Baumer. One meets with his work everywhere;
in "To-Day" and in the shortlived "Unicorn." His bills to advertise the
Academy students' annual burlesque are pretty, if they are nothing else.
Mr. Baumer has certainly still to make his mark as a poster designer.
The Artistic Supply Company, who are paying special attention to the
pictorial poster, have already produced a dainty little _affiche_ by
him. It may be noted here that the company in question have arranged
with some of the most eminent English designers for the reproduction of
artistic posters, and that several, which illustrate these pages, do so
only on account of their permission most generously given.

Among other services which the comic journal "Pick-Me-Up" has rendered
to the artistic public is the extremely important one of emphasizing,
and giving a congenial outlet to, the remarkable talent of Mr.

[Illustration: 0272]

[Illustration: 0274]

Raven-Hill. From almost the first, his connexion with the journal in
question has been a very intimate one. Hardly a number is without a
specimen of his powerful drawing and his gift of comic invention. While
suggesting, in the best sense, the style of the incomparable Charles
Keene, Mr. Raven-Hill's work in black and white is the outcome of his
own personality. It would have been strange if this very modern artist
had not produced pictorial posters: his talent was perfectly adapted to
his doing so with success. His small bills for "Pick-Me-Up" are vigorous
in drawing, bold in colour, and of a pleasant fantasy. They only measure
twenty by thirty inches, but they are very telling. A complete set of
them is a most desirable addition to the collector's portfolio. Another
accomplished member of the staff of "Pick-Me-Up," Mr. Edgar Wilson, has
designed a bill for the recently defunct journal, "The Unicorn." It is
effective, but to me personally, the colour scheme is even more crude
than the exigencies of a poster demand. Mr. Reginald Cleaver, whose
sketches of scenes in the House of Commons created so favourable an
impression in "The Daily Graphic," has not yet, I believe, deliberately
produced a pictorial poster; but one of his drawings, reproduced on
a large scale, lends itself well enough to the purposes of mural
advertisement. Mr. Sydney Adamson, the art editor of

"To-day" and "The Idler," has done a bill which, when it is seen, will
be Jield, I have small doubt, a very striking performance. It is happily
conceived and boldly executed, and should make a striking patch of
colour on the hoardings.

Merely to chronicle the names of the innumerable Wilsons who are
producing pictures would take quite a considerable space. It may be
noted in passing that, like Edgar of that name, Mr. W. Wilson has also
attempted an _affiche_.

Among others who have designed posters which have yet to be seen an the
hoardings are Mr. Max Cowper, Mr. A. R. Miller, Mr. Kerr Lawson, Mr. F.
H. Townsend, whose black and white work one meets everywhere, Mr. Roche,
a prominent member of the Glasgow School, and one of the greatest living
English artists, Mr. Phil May.

Mr. Phil May is not the only "Punch" man who has been seized with the
prevailing mania for the production of posters. His colleague, Mr.
Bernard Partridge, has already designed one which is reproduced in these
pages. One associates Mr. Partridge with dainty and idyllic work rather
than with work which is vigorous, but his first essay in the poster
seems to me to be very promising. Mr. J. T. Manuel's work is as unlike
that of Mr. Bernard Partridge as possible. His pictures might be by a
clever member of the young French School who

[Illustration: 0278]

[Illustration: 0280]

[Illustration: 0282]

[Illustration: 0284]

[Illustration: 0286]

[Illustration: 0288]

[Illustration: 0290]

[Illustration: 0292]

[Illustration: 0294]

[Illustration: 0296]

[Illustration: 0298]

have taken more than a hint from Forain. The designs for posters which
Mr. Manuel exhibited at the Westminster Aquarium, if not so distinctive
of his talent as his contributions in black and white to "Pick-Me-Up,"
were not without definite merit. Of the three, that catalogued as "A
Music-hall Singer" struck me as the best. It should be purchased by Miss
Minnie Cunningham, for the likeness between her, and the young lady
it represents, if accidental, is marvellous. Among young decorative
painters of the day who are not mere imitators of such masters as Sir
Edward Burne-Jones or Puvis de Chavannes, but have invented a style for
themselves, must be included Mr. Charles Ffoulkes. The two examples of
his poster-work here reproduced are as beautiful in colour as they are
refined in pattern. Moreover, they proclaim themselves in loud tones.
Their tones, however, are those of a silver trumpet rather than those of
cymbal or of gong. At times Mr. Ffoulkes forsakes his lofty imaginings
and depicts _chic_ young ladies quite in the best French manner. Mr. L.
Solon's poster, reproduced here, is a very characteristic example of his
decorative style. In inventing it, the artist has clearly kept before
him the fact that a poster cannot live by beauty alone; if, happily,
there be beauty, there must of necessity be advertisement, else is
failure inevitable.

[Illustration: 0300]

Very unlike Mr. Solon's poster are the _affiches_ of Mr. Heywood Sumner;
those which I reproduce here seem to me to be very characteristic of his
graceful gift of design. Mr. Morrow is already an established favourite
on the hoardings of London, and justly so in that his performances are
of exceptional merit. His "Illustrated Bits"

[Illustration: 0302]

is a radiant affair, and his "New Woman" makes quite a pretty picture.
His works should certainly be collected.

Of Mr. R. Anning Bell it is not too much to say that for versatility
only Mr. Walter Crane among English artists can be said to rival him,
and, what is far more important, his success in a medley of mediums is
not to be gainsaid. His poster for the Liverpool School of Art, over
which he presides, is a magnificent piece of decoration, and nothing so
fine, in its way, has ever been, seen on English hoardings. It takes one
up to the Elgin marbles; it is an oasis of the classical in a desert of
the new. I can only mention the following native artists, not previously
considered, who have produced pictorial posters of interest: Mr. F.
Barnard ("Everybody should read in the European School"), Mr. F. Simpson
("Land of the Midnight Sun," "To Norway Fjords"), Mr. Robert Fowler,
R.I., whose poster for the Walker Art Gallery is here illustrated, Mr.
Sidney Haward (p. 279), Mr. Skipworth ("An Artist's Model"), Mr. Skinner
("Pall Mall Magazine"), Mr. Starr Wood and Mr. A. G. Draper.

I have already remarked that the poster movement in this country amounts
to a positive revolution. No young artist is satisfied unless he has a
hand in the decoration of the hoardings; the gold frame is for the time
forgotten, and all have their eyes on the lithographer's stone. France
has undoubtedly had a long start of us, but if she is to retain her
supremacy she must look to her laurels. Our young men are beating at
her doors, though beating only in a spirit of friendly rivalry. Happily,
between England and France there is, at this moment, only one war-the
war of the pictorial poster.

[Illustration: 0304]

[Illustration: 0306]



CHAPTER IX.--IN AMERICA

|In the sweet uses of advertisement the American is surely an expert,
and it would have been curious indeed, if he had overlooked so obvious
and so effective a method of advertising as the pictorial poster.
Finding, in the notorious phrase of Mr. Whistler, that "Art was on
the town," the American advertiser was one of the most eager of those
passing gallants who chucked her under the chin. Who it was originated
the artistic poster movement in the States, it were hard to say with
certainty: it may have been Mr. Matt. Morgan. Among recent American
poster producers, three, however, are most conspicuous, Mr. Edward
Penfield, Mr. Louis J. Rhead, and Mr. Will. H. Bradley. It is probable
that the first-named was the innovator: at least, one would be tempted
to judge so from the quantity of his designs.

Mr. Penfield is still young, having been born at Brooklyn in the year
1866, so that if he was the first American artist to deal with the
poster, the movement in that continent is obviously a recent one.
Most of his posters are on a small scale, and partake of the nature
of window-bills rather than of placards especially destined to the
hoarding. At the same time, Mr. Penfield has been by no means slow to
appreciate that it is the first

[Illustration: 0309]

business of an advertisement to advertise, and his appreciation of this
fad, coupled with a very dainty fancy and no small technical skill, has
led to results which are of unquestionable importance. With his earliest
efforts I cannot pretend to be well acquainted. In 1893 he produced
for a firm at Salem a large bill which measures eighty-one by forty-two
inches. The subject is a girl in a black dress and yellow jacket who is
laden with packages. For the publications of the firm of Harpers,
Mr. Penfield has done quite a quantity of excellent and artistic
advertisements. Amongst the most effective is one produced for a special
midsummer number of "Harper's Bazar," representing a girl playing
a banjo, divided by a crimson sun from an attentive listener of the
opposite sex. Again, for the issue of July, 1894, the artist gives us
a girl in white lighting red crackers arranged to spell the name of the
month. For the February number of the following year, we are presented,
most appropriately, with a gentleman posting a valentine in an orange
coloured letter-box. In April of the same year, Mr. Penfield gives us
Joan of Arc in yellow, wielding sword and staff. Amongst the numerous
books which Mr. Penfield has advertised may be mentioned "The Cloister
and the Hearth," "Pastime Stories," "Our English Cousins," and
"Perlycross." This artist's work is always ingeniously conceived, and
the colour schemes are not seldom pleasantly audacious. Mr. Penfield
gives us very agreeable versions of the American girl in general, and of
the "summer girl" in particular. His maidens are adorably conscious of
their power to charm, and are fully alive to the fact that their gowns
are of the smartest.

To turn from Mr. Penfield to Mr. Louis J. Rhead is to turn to an artist
settled in the United States, but English by birth and education. Mr.
Rhead was born at Etruria, that unclassical place with the classical
name, and comes of a family of artists. He was, I believe, a student at
South

[Illustration: 0312]

[Illustration: 0314]

Kensington for several years, and only reached America in 1883. He has
exhibited at the

[Illustration: 0316]

Salon and the Academy and other important picture shows.

Mr. Rhead seems to have taken to the poster with the greatest
enthusiasm, and he has undoubtedly produced a series of curious and
striking designs. By far the most important of his efforts, though not
the largest, are the designs which he has done for the New York "Sun."
In one of these very daring productions, a crimson sun glows in a golden
sky. The ground is green, the footpath and the trees are blue, while the
girl's costume is garnet and red. It must be confessed that this
colour scheme sounds somewhat formidable, but Mr. Rhead has invented an
arrangement at once artistic and compelling. The lettering, it must be
noted with regret, is not from his own hand. One of the largest of Mr.
Rhead's posters is the "Pearline," in which a girl in a green and red
dress is represented in the act of pinning a sheet on to a line. This
design measures forty-one by twenty-eight inches. Of considerable
size, and of no small merit, is the poster executed for the "Century,"
Christmas, 1894, the chief feature of which is a girl with a peacock.
Among other effective designs which stand to the credit of Mr. Rhead
may be mentioned those advertising "Harper's Bazar," Christmas, 1890,
Thanksgiving, 1894, and Christmas of the same year. For the "Century,"
besides that already noticed, he has done several interesting posters,
and he helped to advertise various numbers of "St. Nicholas" last year.
It is to be noted that

[Illustration: 0318]

Mr. Louis Rhead has held an exhibition of his posters, the catalogue of
which, by reason of its very characteristic and personal decorations, is
highly esteemed by collectors of those unconsidered trifles which end in
becoming especially dear to the connoisseur.

Among the magazines of the world, the "Chap Book," which emanates from
Chicago, is by no means the least interesting. Fascinating as is the
title, the contents of this little periodical are still more so; its
editors seem to have eschewed banality, and to have gone in for novelty,
even when the new did not possess an extraordinary degree of merit. It
were meet that so original a publication should have an advertiser of
corresponding eccentricity. In Mr. Will. H. Bradley, the proprietors of
the "Chap Book" undoubtedly possess such an one. Born at Springfield,
Massachusetts, Mr. Bradley lives in Chicago, and to that town and its
publications he has mainly devoted his energies as an artist advertiser.
It will hardly be disputed that he has seen and assimilated, in no small
degree, the manner of Mr. Aubrey Beardsley. He is, however, a great deal
more than a mere imitator; what he has borrowed, he has borrowed with
conspicuous intelligence, and nobody could for a moment accuse him of
anything approaching petty larceny. Among his most important posters
is a colossal one which, in the manner of Mr. Beardsley, proclaims
the attractions of the drama by Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, entitled "The
Masqueraders." In 1894 Mr. Bradley advertised the "Chap Book" by means
of two dancers in red and brown costumes; the following year he insisted
on the same publication by means of a girl in white and a man in black;
and yet again, through the medium of a young lady in blue, mixed up with
trees in intense purple, outlined with red and white; and several other
equally effective compositions.

Mr. Bradley is, however, not the only artist intimately connected with
Chicago who has distinguished himself in the production of posters. A
native of that city, Mr. Will. Carqueville, has done very interesting
work for the firm of Lippincott's. In the year 1894, at least one design
by him was commissioned, and in the succeeding year he produced four or
more. That he is not afraid of colour is proved by the fact that in
the poster done for Lippincott's, March, 1895, he combines dark purple,
yellow, blue, and bronze. In another design we meet with red, purple,
yellow, and blue. Mr. Kenyon Cox is an American artist whose fame is by
no means confined to the United States. A pupil of Gerôme and Carolus
Duran, he has, so far as I know, made only one essay in the art of the
poster. This measures eighty-one by forty inches, and is in black
and white. It represents a male figure carrying a torch, and is an
advertisement for "Scribner's Magazine." Mr. Scotson Clark was a
schoolfellow of Mr. Aubrey Beardsley. He has, among other posters, done
two to which the picturesque labels of "Our Lady of the Peacock
Feather," and "Lady of the Iris," are attached. In addition, for the
March issue of the "Bookman," 1895, Mr. Scotson Clark drew a monk, with
book in hand. Mr. George Wharton Edwards, the well-known painter in
water-colours, must be credited with three designs for the "Century," in
the months of February, March, and April, 1895. Moreover, by means of a
drawing of a girl and a peacock, he proclaimed the twenty-eighth
annual exhibition of the American Water-Colour Society, in addition to
designing a bill for a book entitled "The Man Who Married the Moon."
The advertising enterprise of the firm of Scribner has made
poster-collectors the richer by one or two productions by Mr. Charles
Gibson Dana. He it was who announced, with no inconsiderable skill, the
issues of "Scribner's Magazine" for the months of January and February,
1895. Mr. Archie Gunn is the son of a well-known drawing master in one
of the large towns of the Midlands. Leaving England for America, he
found an outlet for his talent as a draughtsman on the New York journal
"Truth." His work is nearly always vivacious, even where it is not
particularly original. His posters were done for the "Illustrated
American," and are by no means bad examples of his craftsmanship. Like
most prominent American artists, Mr. Thomas Burford Meteyard studied in
Paris. His poster to advertise a book called

[Illustration: 0324]

[Illustration: 0326]

[Illustration: 0328]

[Illustration: 0332]

[Illustration: 0334]

[Illustration: 0336]

[Illustration: 0338]

"Songs from Vagabondia" is in black and white, and consists of portraits
of the artist himself and the authors of the book, Mr. Bliss Carman and
Mr. Richard Hovey. A limited number of copies were printed "sur Japon,"
and these, I believe, are rare. As in the case of so many other American
artists, Mr. Francis Day's poster work was done for the most part for
the great illustrated magazines which do such credit to the United
States, as an art-producing nation. Mr. Day's design for "St. Nicholas,"
Christmas, 1894, seems to me altogether agreeable, while in the series
designed for "Scribner's Magazine," more than one interesting thing will
be found.

In dealing with the poster in England, we have noticed the fact that one
woman, Mrs. Dearmer, has succeeded in producing a bill at once artistic
and effective. Miss Ethel Reed would seem to be the most conspicuous
lady-artist who has taken up the designing of artistic posters in
the States. Her efforts date only from last February, when she did
an advertisement for the "Boston Sunday Herald." Since then she has
produced several designs which are held in considerable esteem by
American collectors. Amongst other artists who have taken part in the
poster movement on the other side of the Atlantic are the following:
Messrs. Alder ("New York World," March 17th, 1895), Allen, Palmer Cox
("New Brownie Book"), C. Miles Gardner ("Boston Sunday Herald," February
10th, 1895, and March 10th, 1895), Oliver Herford, Charles M. Howard
("Boston Sunday Herald," April 21st, 1895), Frank King ("New York
World," April 7th, 1895), H. McCarter (the Green Tree Library), Moores
("St. Nicholas," November, 1894), Julius A. Schweinfurth (Boston
Festival Orchestra, 1895), W. Granville Smith ("Scribner's Magazine,"
Christmas, 1894), W. L. Taylor, Abby E. Underwood, R. Wills Irving, C.
H. Woodbury, Charles Hubbard Wright, and William M. Paxton. The last
named has been chiefly associated with the "Boston Sunday Herald," and
for that journal he has produced several posters of distinction.

My review of the artistic poster movement in America has been of
necessity brief, and cannot, therefore, be free from sins of omission.
In writing it, I have, where my own knowledge has seemed to me
insufficient, made use of the descriptive catalogue of the collection
of American posters published last May by Mr. Charles Knowles Bolton,
of Brookline, Massachusetts. From the useful bibliography printed at the
end of this pamphlet, it would seem that the movement has been watched
from the first by the American press with keen interest. So far back
as the year 1892, we find Mr. Brander Matthews discussing the pictorial
poster in the "Century" magazine. In the

[Illustration: 0342]

[Illustration: 0344]

present year the subject has been dealt with by writers in such
important newspapers as the "New York Tribune" and the "Boston Herald,"
to say nothing of such journals as "Scribner's Magazine," the "Critic,"
the "Art Interchange," and the "Art Amateur." Quite recently the English
public have had opportunities of seeing the best work by French and
native artists. It is to be hoped that at the next poster exhibition
they will be afforded a chance of seeing what excellent work American
designers are doing in this very practical branch of applied art.

A poster by Mr. E. A. Abbey, illustrated on page 315, arrived too late
for consideration in its proper place. It is entirely worthy the great
reputation of the artist who has so kindly permitted us to reproduce
it here. The figure is in red scale armour, bearing a shield with a red
cross.

[Illustration: 0346]

[Illustration: 0348]



CHAPTER X.--IN COUNTRIES NOT ALREADY DISCUSSED

|That the picture poster was an incident of the ancient civilizations of
China and Japan; goes without saying. The scope, however, of this book
does not embrace the Far East; the illustrated placard in the Orient
would, indeed, be a subject in itself. In the matter of applied art it
is difficult to conceive anything which the Chinese and the Japanese
have not attempted. They seem, from the earliest days, to have been
consumed with a passion for decoration; nothing which by any chance
admitted of ornament was left undecorated. It behoves the societies
which are formed for the purpose of illustrating the artistic
antiquities of these wonderful countries to concern themselves with the
dawn and history of the pictorial poster in the East. Certain it is
that the illustrated advertisement abounded, as it abounds today, in the
cities of both the nations now being discussed. It is, indeed, found
in the less advanced civilization of Burma, and of the various
principalities which form our Indian Empire. To pass from Asia to
Spain is to travel a long way. In Spain, at the present moment, the
illustrated placard is receiving no small attention at the hands of
artists who, however discouraged and ill-paid, are determined to do all
that in them lies to raise the country which produced Murillo to the
position she once held among art-producing nations. A recent writer in
the "Sketch" grows enthusiastic over the Spanish _affiche_. "Spanish
posters," he tells us, "are a delight. Well drawn, vividly but
truly coloured, and perfectly printed, they shine down from walls and
hoardings, attracting all passers-by. They depict the glories of coming
fairs and bull-fights, and are couched in terms calculated to draw
money from a stone. The announcement that a famous matador will kill, or
assist to kill, _Seis Escogidos Toros_, throws the Spanish reader into
a state of frenzy. Not infrequently some incident is depicted with frank
realism. A bull standing over a dead horse gives an opportunity to
the artist to draw the unfortunate horse disembowelled and lying
on blood-stained sand, while the bull's hide shows the marks of
the lance-thrusts, and his horns are likewise stained with blood.
Colour-printing is so good in these regions of perpetual sunlight that
nearly every detail of a matador's costume can be given. The poster
artists are splendid when they depict

[Illustration: 0352]

[Illustration: 0358]

[Illustration: 0360]

movement; they are satisfactory in their purely decorative work, but
figures in repose are apt to become 'woodeny.' In point of colour,
Spain beats France; and as France is so much in advance of England, it
scarcely needs a Euclid to demonstrate that English posters cannot be
compared to those of Spain. The latter exhibit at times an admirable
sense of distance and proportion, which serves to show that their
designers learnt to draw before they began to paint." The four examples
reproduced here will serve to indicate the type of Spanish poster most
frequently met with. Whether Spain, in the matter of the pictorial
placard, is in advance of France or not, is a question of taste. However
brilliant the colour of the Spanish _affiche_, the design seems to me to
lack boldness. Take, for example, the "Gran Feria de Cordoba, 1895;" in
this case the whole thing appears to be a series of elaborate details
rather than a bold and impressive design. The poster in Spain, however,
is rapidly becoming of interest, dealing as it does with fascinating
and essentially picturesque subjects. It is difficult to obtain exact
information concerning the artists who design posters in Spain; the
examples which I reproduce here, I cannot attribute to anybody with any
degree of certainty.

The Teutonic temperament is in no sense akin to the Spanish, and the
pictorial posters of Germany are utterly unlike those of Spain. For the
most part the Germans have, in the past, been addicted to elaborate and
often admirably-executed lithographs, such, for instance, as that done
by Ernest Klint for the Musical and Theatrical Exhibition held at Vienna
in 1892. A new movement is, it appears, making itself conspicuous just
now. The younger generation of German designers seem to be as anxious
to experiment in the making of posters as those of France and England.
Joseph Sattler, a designer of considerable originality and great
dexterity, who has studied Albrecht Dürer with great advantage to his
own work, has designed a very curious little window bill to advertise
"Pan." It is reproduced here, and its strange individuality, its
ingenuity, will not fail to make an impression upon those who look at it
closely. The lettering is devised in an extraordinary way, and Sattler
may be congratulated on the results of an interesting experiment. Very
different to the work of Sattler is that of Franz Stuck. This represents
a classical head in mosaic, and advertises an exhibition of the
Munich Secessionists, a body of experimental painters and designers of
rapidly-growing importance. The tendency of the illustrated poster in
Austria is much the same as it is in Germany. Some admirable bills have
been designed in Italy. Of its particular kind, I have seen few things
better than a large and

[Illustration: 0364]

[Illustration: 0366]

[Illustration: 0368]

[Illustration: 0370]

[Illustration: 0372]

sombre poster to advertise Verdi's "Otello." At the same time, the
Italian posters are not of a very distinctive type, nor does Italian
taste concerning them appear to be very fastidious. The crude, enormous,
and vulgar advertisements for Buffalo Bill's exhibition created quite a
sensation in Rome when that redoubtable personage deigned to visit the
most august of European capitals. The modern Romans forgot their Michael
Angelo in the ecstasy induced by the latest enormity of the American
colour printer. It may be noted that some of the posters done for
the Italian railway companies are bright and gay as an Italian summer
itself. The pictorial poster would not seem to have taken a great hold
on Russia, nor, judging from a comparatively recent visit, has it made
much headway in Scandinavia. In Holland, the present artistic vitality
and enterprise of which are at once so astonishing and gratifying, one
meets with very few posters of conspicuous merit. In Belgium, on the
other hand, there are signs that the poster movement has affected not
a few artists of distinction. The placard by Evenepoel, designed to
advertise a publication in connexion with the Antwerp Exhibition, is
excellent in colour and pattern and most decidedly original, owing very
little to any foreign examples. Duyck's "Cortège des Fleurs (Ville de
Bruxelles)" is decorative and pleasing. This artist has also designed
another placard to advertise Spa (Ferme de Frahinfaz). To Delville we
owe a curious little placard, in the Symbolist manner, which advertised
"Pour l'art, Ier exposition à Bruxelles;" the advertisement for the second
exhibition was the work of Ottevaere. A fantastic and rather picturesque
poster was done to announce one of the annual exhibitions of "La Libre
Esthetique." It represents a strange-looking human being standing
among flowers, under a lurid sky, and holding in his hands a decorative
scroll, upon which the legend is inscribed. Amongst other interesting
Belgian placards are the "Velodrome Bruxellois" by G. Gaudy, the "Paul
Hankar" by A. Crespin, and a poster in monochrome in imitation of
a bas-relief bearing the legend "La plus noble force sociale est le
Droit." All of these are reproduced here. It may be noted in conclusion
that most of the Belgian posters show strong signs of French influence.

[Illustration: 0376]

[Illustration: 0378]

[Illustration: 0380]



CHAPTER XI.--THE PRICE OF THE PICTORIAL POSTER; AND CONCLUDING NOTE

|It is obviously impossible to state accurately the price of the
artistic poster, insomuch as fluctuations take place almost daily,
and, moreover, the numerous dealers vary in their quotations in an
extraordinary degree. Under these circumstances, the present chapter is
written as a matter of current record, rather than with the idea that
it will be of any permanent value for purposes of reference. It may
be stated at the outset, that in dealing with the value of the poster,
rarity has in the first place to be taken into consideration; and thus
it happens that, while delightfully artistic designs are comparatively
inexpensive, posters which are quite unattractive from the point of view
of art are often very costly. The prices which follow are for the most
part taken from the catalogues of M. Edmond Sagot of Paris, and Mr.
Bella of London, the latter of whom, by the organization of exhibitions
and in other ways, has rendered material assistance to English
collectors. In fact, to some extent, he has called the English collector
into existence.

As an example of the price of the poster of which the interest is
archaeological rather than artistic, one may instance a placard, dated
the 20th of February, 1649, which deals with the opening and closing of
the gates of Paris. Its only claim to be considered pictorial consists
in the fact that it is ornamented with a woodcut representing the arms
of the city. Many similar productions were executed in relation to
London and to other English towns. The price asked for it three or four
years ago was thirty francs. Interesting from another point of view are
the illustrated posters which have heralded new books, or new editions
of books, by great writers. Three of these, relating to the works of
Balzac, and including one with woodcuts by Meissonier and Tony johannot,
are valued at twelve francs.

It is time, however, to pass from pictorial posters, which are
interesting on account of age or literary association, to those which
derive their value from their qualities as works of art. In this class
some of the highest prices are obtained by the French artists who, for
the most part, were the contemporaries, or immediate successors, of
Gavarni. The best posters of this master are extremely difficult to
procure, and examples in a fine state realize large sums.

For the "Oeuvres Choisis" bill, together with that designed to advertise
an illustrated edition of Balzac's "Philosophie de la Vie Conjugale,"
something over a hundred francs is asked, while less important works can
be obtained for five-and-twenty or thirty francs. It goes without saying
that the smallest tear or other injury, however neatly and skilfully
repaired, heavily discounts the value of works by Gavarni and the men of
his time; but even slightly damaged examples are eagerly sought for, as
it is almost impossible to obtain perfect ones. Of the productions of
Edouard de Beaumont, two of the rarest are the "Nains Célèbres," already
mentioned, and the "Diable Amoureux." For an exceptionally fine proof
of the former, as much as a hundred francs has been asked, while the
latter, which is very rare, commands about sixty francs. Sums scarcely
less formidable are given for the better posters of Grandville, and
fifty francs for a good Tony Johannot is not by any means an exceptional
price, although unimportant specimens of his work may be picked up in
Paris for a few sous. The excursions of Gustave Doré into the art of the
poster were very few. His most important work was perhaps the "Légende
du Juif Errant," a fine proof of which realizes sixty francs or more.
Posters by Vivant Beaucé, Castelli, Cham, Victor Coindre, Charles
Devrits, H. Emy, A. Farcy, and others of the same period, for the most
part command sums comparatively small; the best productions of Bertall,
Calame, Monnier, and C. Nanteuil, on the other hand, are only a
little less expensive than those of Gavarni and the more distinguished
designers of his time.

Of posters by designers still living, those of Chéret have been most
assiduously collected. It is probable that a complete set of his works
does not exist; even one which is fairly representative, and includes
some of his earlier and rarer _affiches_, is extremely valuable. In the
Sagot catalogue of 1891, over five hundred and fifty posters by Chéret
are described, and of these no less than eighty are priced at twenty
francs or more. Since the publication of the catalogue, their value
has steadily increased, and it is uncertain if many of them can now be
procured at all. The collector of modest means need not, however, regret
that the older and rarer examples of Chéret are beyond his reach, for
the artist's more recent posters are the best that he has accomplished.
For a comparatively small outlay, one may secure the flower of Chéret's
work. Amongst the most valuable of his posters are two, of very large
size, designed to advertise some Arabs who appeared with the Paris
Hippodrome when it visited London in 1887. The price asked for them
is over two pounds. They seem to have escaped the attention of French
collectors from the fact that they were posted exclusively in London.
The set of four

[Illustration: 0386]

Loie Fuller bills, in all of which the design is the same but the
colouring different, is worth between thirty and forty shillings.
These designs are among the most daring and characteristic specimens
of Chéret's amazing colour, and as they only measure forty-nine by
thirty-three inches, they are of manageable size, and should find
their way into the portfolio of every collector. The set of unlettered
decorative panels which were described in an earlier part of the book,
is at present sold by all dealers for five pounds. It goes without
saying that proofs before letters, or prints on special paper, of the
posters of Chéret, or of nearly any other artist, are much more valuable
than ordinary copies.

Most of, the posters of other living French artists may still be
procured for a few shillings, but it is extremely improbable that such
a state of things will long continue to be the case. Already examples by
men of the modern school, such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Anquetin, Bonnard,
Steinlen, and Ibels, are in great demand, and collectors should use the
present opportunity to procure a series of these curiously interesting
designs before the prices rise. Even now, Lautrec's first attempt,
"Le Pendu," has become _rarissime_, and is valued at something over a
sovereign. What has happened in this case will doubtless happen in the
case of "La Reine de Joie,"

"Jane Avril," and Lautrec's other posters. The designs of Grasset
are rapidly taking their place by the side of those of Chéret in the
estimation of collectors, with the result that several of them command
large prices. Thus the "Librairie Romantique," which was offered in 1891
for three francs, was priced by the same dealer in November, 1894, at
twenty. What is going on in the case of Chéret, Grasset, and Lautrec, is
going on, though it may be somewhat less rapidly, in the case of
those other artists who have assisted to make the French _affiche_ the
charming and artistic thing it is.

The posters of those artists who were the pioneers of the artistic
poster movement in England are extremely rare. They worked in the days
before the English collector existed, and any copies of their designs
not actually posted, probably fell into the hands of the waste-paper
dealer. I have been unable to trace any copies of the advertisement done
by Fred Walker for "The Woman in White," but the original design has
been recently exhibited in London, and the price put upon it by its
owners is seventy guineas. Copies of Mr. Walter Crane's "Hippodrome"
bill are extremely rare, as are those designed by Professor Herkomer for
the "Magazine of Art," "Black and White," and the exhibition of his own
works. Turning to the younger men, it is interesting to note that Mr.
Dudley Hardy's "Yellow Girl" sells in Paris for twenty francs, the large
"Gaiety Girl" for half as much, and the smaller bills for the same play
for five francs. The first poster which this artist did for "St. Paul's"
is very difficult to meet with; it will doubtless be among the most
valuable of Mr. Hardy's designs. Mr. Beardsley's "Avenue" poster is
quoted neither by Mr. Bella nor M. Sagot, and it may therefore be
concluded that it is almost impossible to obtain it. The other posters
of this designer are steadily increasing in value, and are
eagerly sought for by collectors on both sides of the Channel. Mr.
Greiffenhagen's "Pall Mall" poster, which has met with much success
abroad, is worth about half a sovereign. The dainty little bill which
Mr. Wilson Steer did for the exhibition of his paintings at the Goupil
Gallery fetches about the same amount, and is rapidly becoming scarce.
It is pleasant to think that the early efforts of English artists are
welcomed by French collectors as enthusiastically as the masterpieces of
French artists by collectors in England.

The poster is obviously difficult to collect, because of its size.
Not all of us are proprietors of such an immensity as the Chicago
Exhibition. Most of us, on the other hand, could paper a room with
posters of Lautrec alone. Everybody, however, can put the smaller bills
into a portfolio, while the larger ones may be mounted as ordinary
school maps. The collecting of pictorial posters needs nothing more than
a little heroism.

In the foregoing chapters, I have attempted to outline the history of
art as applied to the poster, and to give an account of the pictorial
placard in the present state of its development. The number of names,
eminent in the history of various modern arts and crafts, who have
applied themselves to the production of the pictorial poster seems to
me to justify the publication of this book. The fact that men so highly
endowed as Chéret and Lautrec deliberately choose to appeal to the
public chiefly by means of the _affiche_, well knowing that their
gallery is the common hoarding, places the illustrated poster outside
the bounds of ridicule. A modern art critic of high repute and of
enormous energy has assured us that, in these days, to neglect the
poster is mere folly on the part of those who care for the application
of taste and skill to the objects of everyday life. We are apt to talk
of artistic periods; periods when the most ordinary objects had an
aesthetic character of their own. It seems to me to be full of promise
for the future that the hoarding should be among the first necessities
of modern civilization to be rendered charming by the skill and
imagination of the artist. Art is generally supposed to be inimical
to commerce, and commerce inimical to art, yet here we have the two
combining to the advantage of both, and succeeding in making the
beautiful an incident of the necessary.

[Illustration: 0391]





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