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Alphonse Mucha Moët & Chandon Crémant Impérial poster (1899) Colour lithography

A poster is a large piece of printed paper that has a picture of something. Posters are made to be shown on a wall or other flat surface. Posters may be used for advertising, education, propaganda, and decoration.[1][2] They may also be copies of famous works of art.

Chromolithography and the poster

Chromolithography (colour lithography) was invented by Engelmann and son, who were granted a patent in 1837.[3] After that, it was a matter of time before it reached full commercial development.

Because of its low production costs, over the 50 years after the American Civil War, millions of chromolithographs were printed and were sold for under $10. Louis Prang, a Bostonian, produced fine-art subjects, such as still lifes, landscapes, and classical subjects.[4] Nevertheless, it was only after the Jules Chéret posters, in 1847, that the potential of this technical process for creation of artistic posters was realized.[5]


Jules Chéret

19th century posters in the US

Louis John Rhead

Edward Penfield

Toulouse-Lautrec and Post-impressionism

Art nouveau posters and the impact of graphics on painting

Posters in the first half of the 20th century

Posters were used for war propaganda, to encourage young people to enlist in the army, and to sell government war bonds. From a strictly artistic view the posters were unimaginative and far from the masterpieces of the late 19th century posters. The posters almost all came with a caption to bang the message home.


  1. Hillier, Bevis 1969. Posters. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  2. Barnicoat, John 1979. Posters: a concise history. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20118-8
  3. Twyman, Michael 1970. Lithography 1800–1850. Oxford University Press. p160
  4. Gallo, Max, The poster in History, (2002) W.W.
  5. Thornton R.S. 1989. Japanese posters: the first 100 years. Design Issues, 6, #1, Design in Asia and Australia. 4-14
  6. David Raizman 2003. History of modern design: graphics and products since the Industrial Revolution. Laurence King. ISBN 9781856693486
  7. Bradford R. Collins, 1985. The poster as art: Jules Cheret and the struggle for the equality of the arts in late nineteenth-century France. MIT Press.
  8. Stanley Appelbaum 1990. The Complete «Masters of the Poster»: all 256 color plates from «les Maîtres de L'affiche». Courier Dover ISBN 9780486263090
  9. Smithsonian Institution
  10. "Louis Rhead Obituary", New York Times (July 30, 1926)
  11. Wilczak, Susan A. The posters of Edward Penfield for Harper's New Monthly Magazine: a reflection of American society in the 1890s [Thesis]. Ann Arbor, MI: Department of Art, Michigan State University, 1996.
  12. Bauwens, Maurice; Hayashi, T.; La Forgue, Jules; Meier-Graefe, J.; Pennell, Joseph; and Boudét, G., editors. Les affiches étrangères illustrées. Paris: G. Boudet, 1897.
  13. Exman, Eugene. The House of Harper: One hundred and fifty years of publishing. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.Johnson, Diane Chalmers. American art nouveau. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1979. Jones, Sydney R. Posters and their designers. London: The Studio, Ltd, 1924. Keay, Carolyn. American posters of the turn of the century. New York: St Martin's, 1975. Les maitres de l'affiche. 5 vols. Paris: Imprimerie Chaix, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900. King, Julia. The flowering of Art Nouveau graphics. Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1990. Maginnis, Charles. D. Pen drawing: an illustrated treatise, 1899. Malhotra, Ruth; Spielmann, Heinz; and Thon, Christina. Das frühe plakat in Europa und den USA: ein bestandskatalog. Band 1, Großbritannien vereinigte von Nordamerika. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1973. 43-173.
  14. ACKROYD, Christopher. Toulouse-Lautrec. Chartwell Books, 1989. The History and techniques of the great masters. DESLOGE, Nora. Toulouse-Lautrec: the Baldwin M. Baldwin Collection, San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego Museum of Art, 1988. D'ESPARBES, Georges et al. Les Demi-cabots, le café concert, le cirque, les forains. Paris, 1896. FEINBLATT, Ebria & Bruce Davis. Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries: posters of the belle époque from the Wagner Collection. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1985. GAUZI, Françoise. Lautrec et son temps. Paris, 1954. ZELDIN, Theodore. France 1848-1945. Oxford and New York, 1977. Oxford history of modern Europe.
  15. SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF ART. The Baldwin M. Baldwin Collection of Toulouse-Lautrec. San Diego, 1972. SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF ART. The Baldwin M. Baldwin Foundation Collection: graphics and other works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. San Diego, 1980. SCHIMMEL, Herbert D. & Phillip Dennis Cate. The Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and W.H.B. Sands correspondence. New York, 1983. STUCKEY, Charles F. Toulouse-Lautrec paintings. Art Institute of Chicago, 1979. SUGANA, G.M. The complete paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec. New York, 1969.
  16. ADHEMAR, Jean. Toulouse-Lautrec: his complete lithographs and drypoints. New York, 1965. ADRIANI, Götz. Toulouse-Lautrec. London, 1987. Trans. Sebastian Wormell; first published Cologne, 1986. ADRIANI, Götz. Toulouse-Lautrec: the complete graphic works; a catalogue raisonné, the Gerstenberg collection. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1988. CASTLEMAN, Riva & Wolfgang Wittrock. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, images of the 1890s. Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1985. CATE, Phillip Dennis & Patricia Eckert Boyer. The Circle of Toulouse-Lautrec. The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, 1985. COOPER, Douglas. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. New York, 1966. DELTEIL, Loys. Le Peintre-graveur illustré; vols. IX, X. Paris, 1920. DORTU, M.G. Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre; six vols. New York, 1971.
  17. JOYANT, Maurice. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; two vols. Paris, 1926-7. MONTORGUEIL, Georges. Preface to Le Café-concert. 1893. WEISBERG, Gabriel P. et al. Japonisme: the Japanese influence on French art, 1854-1910. Cleveland Museum of Art, 1975. WITTROCK, Wolfgang. Toulouse-Lautrec, the complete prints. London, 1985. Two vols.
  18. Calloway, Stephen. 1998. Aubrey Beardsley. New York, N.Y.: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0810940094.
  19. Anna Dvorak. “Illustrations for Books and Periodicals.” in Alphonse Mucha: the complete graphic works. Anne Bridges (ed). NY: Harmony, 1980.
  20. see :GUSTAV KLIMT: Art Nouveau Visionary, By Eva di Stefano, Sterling, 2008, ISBN 9781402759208
  21. Gustav Klimt: 1862-1918, by Gilles Neret, Taschen (August 1, 1999), ISBN 978-3822859803
  22. Harper P. War, Revolution and Peace, propaganda posters from the Hoover Institution Archives 1914-1945 [Stanford Art Department, Stanford Museum] [1969], Marshall Cavendish Collection, 'Selling the War' in Images of War No.64 (Marshall Cavendish, London) 1996. [1]. Archived 2009-10-31.
  23. Norman Rockwell is considered the "quintessential middlebrow American artist".Kelly, Michael (1992-07-12). "The Candidates as Culture Vultures". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  24. Some critics view his sentimental and nostalgic vision out of step with the harsh realities of American life, such as The Great Depression.Wright, Tricia (2007). "The Depression and World War II". American Art and Artists. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-06-089124-4.
  25. Art Deco Graphics, by Patricia Kery,Thames and Hudson; New edition (May 2, 2002), 0500283532, 978-0500283530. The birth of the modern poster, Mark Henshaw, the National Gallery of Australia, [2]