Jules Chéret (1836-1932) was the first master of Belle Époque poster art. After training in lithography in England, he became one of the first champions of new color lithographic methods. Taking after French rococo masters Fragonard and Watteau, frothy visions of young women in frivolity became his signature. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1890, and initiated the Maîtres d’Affiche collection in 1895.
When Chéret took his art to a canvas, rather than a lithographer’s stone, something extraordinary occurred: he began to channel late-period Renoir. The pellucid blues, delightful demeanor, and melodic flow apparent in this portrait of a female mandolin player are immediately worthy of any gallery of Impressionists.
One of the world’s first motion pictures, Emile Reynaud’s Pantomimes Lumineuses premiered at the Musée Grévin on October 28, 1892. Using long strips of transparent images manually pulled across a translucent screen, this primitive, 1600-frame film lasted about 15 mintues, showcasing three cartoon stories: Pauvre Pierrot, Un Bon Bock, and Le Clown et ses Chiens. Over 500,000 viewers would be delighted by it over the next 8 years, but Reynaud’s technology had been superseded by the turn of the century, forcing his work almost into obscurity. Today, only fragments of the films remain.
Louise Balthy had been trained in ballet, but her true talents came out when performing comic songs. By the age of 17, she was receiving rave reviews at the Eldorado in Paris. These cheerful, humorous ditties would take her to the stage at La Scala, the Palais Royal, the Bodinière, and, as seen here, the Alcazar d’Eté. She has been immortalized not only by Chéret, but also by Lautrec and Cappiello (see PAI-LVII, 205) in a variety of her vivacious public appearances.
Dashing red on a waterwashed blue background, this skater beckons us to join her at the popular ice-skating rink on the Champs-Elysées. One of the very best in the series, it’s also one of the most unusual: no gentleman-skater silhouette lurks behind her. This is the ladies’ skate. This is a two-sheet poster, and one of four different iterations of Chéret’s Palais de Glace series in this auction.
In-gallery viewing October 12 to 27 (daily 11am-6pm)