victorian business advertisement les

Monday, June 23, 2008

Victorian Business & Advertisement: Les Maitres de l’Affiche

(by G. Boano, 1898) – “Royal Theater [opera house], Turin”

Duing my wanderings at the RL bookstore, I happened up on a series of imagry books by the Dover Design company. To my suprise, there was a book which had a number of scans of “Les Maitres de l’Affiche” (“The Masters of the Posters”).
(by Otto Fischer – 1896) – “Exhibition of Saxon artisanry and commercial art, Dreden, 1896; the old city”)
For those who are unfamilar with the “Masters”, they were quite possibly the earliest form of standarized advertisement for commerical goods. Many artistic geniuses of the era supplemented their incomes by producing these works, which at the time, which were quite popular, with the major cities of Europe (especially Paris) being plastered with numerous advertisements

(by Will Bradley – 1896) – Victor Bicycles
To provide a bit more insight, the Martin-Lawrence Galleries has a more detailed overview of the Masters…


Les Maîtres de l’Affiche (The Masters of the Poster) refers to one of the most influential art publications in history. The 256 color plates that make up this suite represent a wide-ranging selection of outstanding original prints from the turn of the twentieth century, when this popular art form first reached its peak. By the 1890’s the streets of French cities were enlivened by large, colorful posters. The poster had not only caught the fancy of the public, but its best examples were already being regarded as true works of art (specifically, as fine prints) to be exhibited, reviewed in journals, collected and reproduced in a more manageable form.

In the last five years of the 19th century, Imprimerie Chaix was to play a great part in codifying, hallowing and perpetuating the ebullient spirit of the Belle Epoque. It was in those years that Chéret’s print shop published smaller chromolithographic versions (in authentic colors) of over 200 highly regarded posters of the times. These prints were created by more than 90 great artists, each bringing this fabulous period to life for us today. The renowned set of 256 prints were created by Imprimerie Chaix, forever to be known as a set as Les Maîtres de l’Affiche. Each print was rendered as a separate sheet measuring 11 x 15 inches. The set was compiled in a unique way. Every month for 60 months – from December 1895 through November 1900 – subscribers received a wrapper containing four consecutively numbered prints.

On 16 occasions (each of the five Decembers, each of the Junes, and the March and September of the final three years) the monthly wrapper also contained a bonus plate, not a poster reproduction but a specially created lithograph. The compilation of this set of original prints makes up the complete suite known as Les Maîtres de l’Affiche.

~ from the Martin-Lawrence Galleries


(by Henri Meunier – 1897) – Coffee Advertisement

I have posted a few in today’s article, and will keep a rotate a number on the sidebar in the coming months. For further inspiration, please visit:

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