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Advertising Posters – A Century Of Passionate Collecting


During the 1890s, the otherwise gray and bleak streets of Paris were decorated, as if for a festival, with colorful advertising posters by some of the finest artists of the time. Renowned art connoisseurs and critics as well as people in the streets, were delighted by this new contemporary art. The artists considered the advertising poster the best way of exhibiting their talents to the widest public without compromising their artistic sensibilities, thus, Paris became an open air museum Occasionally burglaries of freshly hung posters right off their billboards found their way to eager print sellers and collectors. Today, we rarely see vintage posters available in an unblemished state as many have been somewhat marred over time and few have a flawless appearance. At the turn of the century it became fashionable to collect advertising vintage posters. The open air museum was brought into the home and was viewed as a charming and new way of decorating. The passion for vintage poster collecting (some collector’s amassed 500 to 600 different vintage posters) crossed the Atlantic and by 1896 there were an estimated 6000 American collectors of the vintage poster. Had it not been for these zealous collectors, few vintage posters would be available today.

Jules Cheret, who perfected the advertising vintage poster with his gaiety and talent, made this new art form so desirable that in 1899 he was awarded the Legion of Honor. Toulouse-Lautrec created the vintage poster that reflected the bohemian culture and joie de vivre of Montmartre, often incorporating his notorious associates in the images. Some of the other master posterists of the era were Pal, Gray, Lefevre, Georges Meunier, Pean, Choubrac, Misti, Grun, and of course, Alphonse Mucha and his numerous followers who perfected the Art Nouveau style. In fact, many vintage posters of anonymous origin of the Belle Epoque era are equally wonderful and collectible. Cappiello became famous as a posterist in 1900 and continued to be very popular throughout the Art Deco era. His use of bold colors, wit and humor insured his immediate popularity. During this Art Deco era, the vintage posters of Cassandre, D’Ylen as well as Cappiello and others captured the smooth sensuous geometry of this modern and streamlined society. In recent years, the accomplished vintage poster artist Villemot (who lived until 1989) excelled with advertising posters visually sparse and near abstract in content, yet saturated with rich color resulting in desirable and highly collectible artworks.

Although vintage poster collecting continues to be very popular, an advertising vintage poster is increasingly difficult to find making our search more demanding. Museums throughout the world exhibit vintage posters regularly and have them in their permanent collections: in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art; in Paris, the Louvre; in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum; in Washington D.C., the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute; in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few.

Authentic advertising vintage posters are indeed a world-class art form appreciating in value while being a joy to own. At La Belle Epoque Gallery we currently have over 3,000 original Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid Century vintage posters, from the Belle Epoque era through modern times (1880s-1990s). Our Gallery features small ephemera to full-size billboards. We offer expertise in building and enhancing your collection. Luxuriate in big artwork worthy of investment.

La Belle Epoque Gallery specializes in creative custom conservation framing for vintage poster and all your needs in a great variety of styles. Our exquisitely crafted frames and painstakingly designed framing solutions are the perfect complement to your unique works of art, documents, heirlooms, objects and ephemera.

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