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.
“Bagnères-de-Luchon is a year-round resort in the Pyrénées, and the high-altitude Superbagnères is where serious skiers converge. To entice winter throngs, Cappiello gives the public a picture of young skiers having fun on the slopes. Their colorful attire adds to the wholesome interest that the area evokes” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 292).
Emphasizing the release of one’s inner demons, Cappiello presents us with a male and female devil, peering eagerly into a box of Fournier Triple-Sec. Founded in 1865, Fournier-Demars’ original specialty was absinthe, a possible other explanation for the use of hell-bound creatures in this poster.
“The mission of this orange-haired dancer was to attract visitors at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair to come to the Folies-Bergère… Cappiello chose a variant of the can-can dancer from his first Frou-Frou poster of the year before. Still rooted in his early caricature style, it is nevertheless an excellent poster, with its flat colors and eye-catching quality. The image was also issued in an edition of 100 copies, before letters (of which this is one), and an extremely limited silk edition of only 10 copies. Although all contemporary references make it clear that the Frou-Frou poster was Cappiello’s first, a black-and-white flyer was issued which proclaimed this to be ‘The First Poster of Cappiello.’ It is not clear if this was also issued in 1900” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 39).
Starting right around 1912, advances in food preparation and storage were transforming how people cooked and ate. But for the French gourmand—steeped in the thousand-year history of the French corner bakery—prepackaged tinned biscuits appeared a little suspect. Cappiello’s brightly hued poster aimed to persuade consumers otherwise. An obsequious shop-hand stands in the midst of a tower of biscuit tins, offering one to an ostentatiously elegant lady, and we are assured these confections are “Practical, Advantageous, and Assured Fresh.” Cappiello went on to design many other posters for Paquet Pernot, which was likely a result of nailing this brief.
“An original way to show how sturdy one’s tires are: the rats are doing their best to gnaw through the Pneu Vélo Lefort, but they’re simply too strong (Fort) for the rascally rodents. A wonderful visual pun and a true Cappiello inspiration!” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 140).
“There’s a wee bit of devilry in any alcoholic beverage, and Cappiello used infernal imagery in a number of liquor posters. Here, the merry red devil, pouring it on for Chambéry Reynaud vermouth, comes across as an inspired artistic creation” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 130). Rare!
This is a rare 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). This is the smallest of three formats.
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.