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.
A brisk day by the seashore—and the delirious, aphrodisiacal taste of fresh-shucked oysters right on the pier—that’s the promise of La Caisse Simon, serving up exquisite oysters that arrive in a perfect state, anywhere in Europe. Cappiello adds the eye-winking touch of the ladies’ skirts blown by the breeze, while the gentleman waits in anticipation as his companion slurps a shell.
Here’s a fresh advertising tactic: the Gramophone, from the Voix de son Maître company, is standing trial against the evil machines who have discredited the most surprising invention. The record player continues: “I swear that the Gramophone of the Compagnie Française du Gramophone, creator of the Needle Disc, is the only scientific instrument that faithfully reproduces the human voice. Compare!!” The three judges lean in closely to better absorb the player’s human-like voice. This is a two-sheet poster and rare!
“Fernand Charron, who won the first Gordon Bennett cup in a car of his own design in 1900, eventually took over the Automobiles Charron firm and manufactured large, comfortable—and expensive—sedans. The closed cab shown in the poster was the natural automotive evolution from a carriage design—it was very popular with the aristocracy as it exuded elegance and luxury. All of this is reinforced in Cappiello’s design, showing an elegant lady giving directions to her driver before entering the cab. The frame around the image, including the title plate, suggests that the Charron automobile is a masterpiece” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 90).
This is the original larger, four-sheet version of the popular 1909 design that has become firmly and indelibly associated with this product. It’s just the kind of bold overstatement that Cappiello believed would most effectively deliver the message, even with regard to so humble a product as a heating pad. It became so well-equated with the product, in fact, that this image was reprinted in many versions and editions for more than 30 years.
“The Spanish language poster for Mechero Holandés/Manguito Holandés lamp burners and sleeves is another stellar example of Cappiello’s perfect understanding of how to draw an uninformed public’s eye directly to a previously unseen promotional poster; the dazzle of the personified sun versus the razzle of the advertised lighting element fascinates us on its own merit, and before we realize that we’re being lured into perusing the message, we’ve already become potential customers” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 93). Rare!
Most popular before World War I, Araks was an Egyptian-style brand of cigarette manufactured in Belgium. Other designs for the company consist of a camel walking through the dessert at night, and while Cappiello has obviously traded in the camel for a sultry lady, the color of her wrap dress echoes that of the sand, while the sky maintains its traditional midnight blue. He has added sex appeal without diverging from the brand’s pre-established visual identity.
Taking its name from the Greek myth, Péro cigarette papers was founded in 1909 by Causemille Jeune. This reference to the allure of the East is further emphasized in Cappiello’s design, which draws from the already-established graphic tradition of placing an exotic-looking figure on a sea of Oriental carpets, smoke wafting enticingly through the air. This image is printed on silk and rare!
Although this exuberant image was never realized as a poster, it’s classic Cappiello. He loved to depict beautiful women bursting forth from—or flying over—exaggerated bunches of grapes, as seen in his 1904 Liqueur Cordial-Médoc, 1907 Cognac Gautier Frères, 1920 Asti Cinzano, and, more humbly, in his 1933 Buvez du Vin.
“’Fruit Salt’ is a euphemistic name for Eno, a British-made laxative distributed in France by the pharmaceutical firm of Georges Miguel. But the mundane nature of the product doesn’t deter Cappiello from invoking a veritable sun goddess to deliver a can of it right to the consumer’s windowsill. She literally brings forth the light of health into the darkness of habitual indifference” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 251). Rare!
“Here, the flame-hot ‘spirit of gas’ hovers over one of the Becuwe gas stoves (’Fourneaux’). The common denominator between [this and another design; see PAI-X, 149] is the near-photographic approach Cappiello used to render the appliances against the paper background. He varies the composition, but achieves the same stunning effect to entice the viewer. And seeing as the firm’s stove is considerably larger than their iron, the larger four-sheet format utilized here is proportionally appropriate” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 274). Rare!
“The impeccably fashionable gentleman is wearing Brummell brand clothing that he obtained at the Au Printemps department store. Its founder, Jules Jaluzot, was one of the most progressive merchandisers of his time. He opened his department store in 1865 in a neglected area of Paris near the Gare St. Lazare for which he correctly foresaw rapid growth. He installed elevators in 1874, electricity in 1883, and telephones in 1905. The Brummell line, named for George Bryan Brummell, a favorite companion as well as a fashion consultant for the Prince of Wales in the 19th century, was introduced by the Printemps establishment in 1930” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 322). While previously seen versions of this design show the dapper gent alone, this never-before-seen design sees him with some fashionable companions. Rare!