Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942) is known as the “father of modern advertising” for his revolutionary vision of the promotional poster. Though he studied under the great Jules Chéret at the printing house Vercasson, he eventually broke away from the established aesthetic spawned by the Impressionists and developed his own style: flat backgrounds, bold and saturated hues, and animated scenes that nearly burst off the page.
“Perhaps a bit overstated, this promotion for Dr. Roja’s shampoo certainly makes the point clear that Dr. Roja, made from ‘Norwegian tar and aromatic plants,’ is the only product you’ll need to give your hair an abundance of body. The cascade of red tresses serves as the design’s exclamation point and we join in the coiffeur’s own surprise of the lotion’s power. Roja is now completely controlled by L’Oreal” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 105). This is the larger format. Rare—especially with its exceedingly fresh colors!
This maquette provides a delightful look at Cappiello’s process: his rough lines, outlined letters, and splashes of color in gouache, ink, and crayon lay the foundation for his later finalized work. “Cappiello must have been honored and pleased to do a poster for the spa in his hometown of Livorno and he went all out to show us a joyful woman holding up a string of Japanese lanterns that spell out the name of the resort. The many art and sport exhibitions scheduled are listed in the lower [left] area” (Rennert, 23). Notations in the left margin give some color instructions.
“What the red horse did for Chocolat Klaus, the zebra did for Cinzano—and for Cappiello. With a highly respected, long-established firm from his native country endorsing his unorthodox approach to advertising, he was now universally honored as a pioneer of the new bold wave of product publicists. Jacques Vienot declared it a revolutionary poster and announced that 1910 ‘was not only an important date in the career of Cappiello, but an important year in the history of the art of the poster’ (p. 61). …Shrewd enough to recognize that [this poster was a stroke of genius], the progressive firm used his talents again and again, and even twenty years down the road, when they merged with Florio, they called on him and used the association to their advantage with a second zebra” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 118). That image can be seen in lot No. 163.
“A woman in a billowing dress perched precariously on a ladder deposits bunches of grapes into a barrel in order to promote the ‘qualité’ and ‘quantité’ of wines that will result from the use of PRODUITS OTTO. The product was meant to promote the health of the vineyards and their use in all areas of French winemaking is evidenced by the bottles sporting their regional labels” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 162). Extremely rare!
By the looks of this hand signed crayon maquette, Cappiello has been seduced by the charms and whims of Queen Antinea, descendant of the rulers of Atlantis, and charmer of men from Pierre Benoit’s 1919 fantasy novel, “L’Atlantide.” In the story, she has a cave wall with 120 niches carved into it, one for each of her lovers; with 53 filled, she needs to reach a total of 120, at which point she will sit atop a throne in the center of the cave and rest forever. Here we see her gently floating upward, curls bobbing in the breeze, as she drifts towards her ultimate fate. It is not clear if this was a design intended for a poster or an illustration.
This is a rare, never-before-seen version of Cappiello’s classic “Bitter Campari,” with text that instead reads “‘Campari’ / l’apéritif.” “Cappiello, steeped in theatrical tradition from his years as a stage caricaturist, often chose pierrots, harlequins, or clowns to represent various products. Here, in one of his most inspired designs, the clown embodies the spirit of the orange peel, a zesty ingredient in [Campari]. This image has become one of the classics of poster design, effortlessly combining the element of surprise with the essence of the product” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 214).
“Florent de Castellane, a genuine viscount, founded the champagne company bearing his name in 1895; the company was bought by L’Union Champenoise in 1907 and today it’s part of the Laurent-Perrier group. Other than making wine, the viscount had another passion—collecting Cappiello posters. They have been retained by his estate and are occasionally shown to the public in traveling exhibitions” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 231).
“To support the ‘royal’ claim of Royal Gaillac, Cappiello uses the likeness of King Henri IV, one of the most popular of the French kings, a bon vivant who shows up in many posters during the artist’s time for food and drink. He is shown riding his famous white horse bareback, not spilling a precious drop of the aperitif as the steed rears dramatically across the diagonal space of the poster” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 288). This is the large format version of the poster.
In-gallery viewing February 8 to 23 (daily 11am-6pm)