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Leonetto Cappiello
16 iconic posters and three rare billboards.

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.

169. Absinthe Gempp Pernod. 1903.
54 1/2 x 77 3/4 in./138.5 x 197.3 cm
Est: $14,000-$17,000

The leader in the absinthe business, Pernod dominated the market from the late 18th century until the beverage was banned. This two-sheet poster, still calling upon Cappiello’s early work as a caricaturist, advertises the branch of the company owned by Pernod’s son-in-law, Charles Gempp.

173. Unic / Chaussures de Luxe pour Hommes. 1913.
76 1/2 x 120 1/8 in./194.3 x 305 cm
Est: $5,000-$6,000

Cappiello was never one to shy away from utilizing the absurd to draw attention to a product, as can be seen here in his six-legged buyer of Unic, deluxe shoes for men. A very different design would be created by Cassandre for the company 19 years later, in which we are presented with just a pair of shiny brown lace-ups (see PAI-LXXXIV, 258). This is the larger, three-sheet format.

177. Mistinguett / Casino de Paris. 1920.
46 1/4 x 62 3/4 in./117.3 x 159.4 cm
Est: $17,000-$20,000

This is an absolutely smashing lithograph of Mistinguett by Cappiello, who has an unusual sensitivity to the actual contours of her face, making it a more realistic portrait than most. The electricity in her toothy grin and the signature headline extending out of the white ribbons is unlike anything else in either the Mistinguett oeuvre, or in the entirety of Cappiello’s work. Cappiello catches her in 1920 for “La Revue Nouvelle” at the Casino de Paris. “Cappiello managed to find a rather novel angle to present the legendary performer: He sets us down in a box seat, a superior vantage point from which to watch her. It was Mistinguett’s first public appearance in several years without her steady partner and lover, Maurice Chevalier, with whom she had just parted ways. It was in this revue that she introduced one of her signature songs, ‘La Parisienne’” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 204).

178. Royat. 1923.
100 3/8 x 155 1/4 in./255 x 394.2 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

In an earlier poster from 1909, Cappiello personified the royal mineral water in the form of a mermaid; here, he gives us an all-white spirit (no doubt meant to signify purity) on an aquatic background. This is an impressive six-sheet poster.

179. Alcool de Menthe Ricqlès. 1924.
99 1/2 x 155 3/4 in./253 x 395.8 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

“Ricqlès, a silk merchant from Lyon, is credited with the invention of ‘alcool de menthe’ in 1838, originally claiming for it the usual all-healing properties associated with most of the stomach bitters of that period, except that Mr. Ricqlès took it a step further by saying that he was inspired by divine guidance” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 252). This is perhaps why we see a pair of angels proudly brandishing a bottle on the product’s label. This is the six-sheet version.

180. “Délices” / Ferrand & Renaud. 1923.
101 5/8 x 156 3/4 in./258.2 x 398.2 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

An enthusiastic, lithe lady with wheat-colored hair and a grain-adorned skirt points out just how delicious Ferrand & Renaud pasta is. Years before, when it was simply the Ferrand pasta company, it won high honors at the Paris Exposition. This is the six-sheet, largest format.

181. Parapluie-Revel. 1929.
78 1/2 x 124 3/4 in./199.4 x 315.8 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

When M. Revel founded his Lyon-based umbrella company in 1851, one could purchase his wares in both silk and cotton. While the subject matter may seem slightly ordinary, the poster is one of Cappiello’s most ingenious and delightful designs. As effective as it is simple, one sees “the umbrellas braving the storm like black ships’ sails. All the elements of fine poster design are here: bold shapes, strong contrasts (the background is a surprising sunny yellow), tight yet lively composition, unusual perspective—and no more detail than necessary” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 236). Although the company closed its doors in the 1950s, this poster remains a testament to its once brilliant advertising campaign. This is the larger three-sheet version of the poster.

View All Cappiello Posters
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