The Beauty of Advertising in the 1890’s-
Women have always been a prominent subject in art tracing all the way back to the Renaissance. These elegant females were most commonly revered for a quiet natured elegance. Not until the late 1800s would women begin to show up in art to make such a stand for flaunting independence. Women before the 1890’s women held motherly roles and took care of the children and the household; taking on tasks such as cleaning or sewing. Women were meant to be seen and not heard. They were always kept in the background of society. Increasing through the 1890s women became move active in politics and this number would sky rocket later during the progressive era. Women writers and poets began to receive gradual recognition for their creativity and admirable works. In years, leading up to the turn of the century women began to break the mold and show off the wealth created for them . Women were ready to flaunt what they had worked for, their independence and break the years of silence and confinement of hiding behind their husbands for support. This time was a century of glamour and wealth, and what better reflected this idea than that of advertising.
Artists and advertising companies embraced the opportunity to promote the beauty of women and the shift from traditional women’s roles. Artists such as Alphonse Mucha, Toulouse- Lautrec, and Bonnard became famous off their advertisements that used the woman as the promoting factor for all types of products. Using a technique called lithography artist could easily copy prints over and over by using ink impressions covered by a flat stone. Some of these artists even found comfort and strength through the opportunity to use these women as subject of their work. Alphonse even found a muse in one of the women he painted. Henri- Toulouse Lautrec would spend hours on end in the Moulin Rouge studying the looseness of the bar girls there finding comfort in their hospitality. Popular during this time artists painted in the style of Art Nouveau using illustration-like techniques. These companies were well aware that the beauty of these women would appeal to both men and to women. These women represented poise grace, money, style and sophistication: everything that society was supposed to entail. Women had always been seen as an object of desire but now they were also a symbol of reform in years to come. Women began to shift from the home and explore more of the outdoors and the arts. Life for them was all about having fun while looking good at the same time.
Looking at the women in the following prints, one can see their universal appeal to all audiences. The women of the time would represent all that a consumer would long to be and all the things a consumer wanted. Women wanted to share that similarity with the women in the advertisement and the men desired women in the advertisements. No wonder art of this time had such a fanciful style about it.

Moulin-Rouge---La-Goulue-Print-C10009111.jpgHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Moulin Rouge, 1892

At a young age, Lautrec was critically disabled and unable to partake in such sports and activities. He found comfort in art and by age 21, he was visiting brothels and cafés in order to comfort his yearning for humanity. The women at the Moulin Rouge gave his encouragement but more importantly inspiration for his works. The Moulin Rouge created in 1892 was hung in the foyer of the cabaret to welcome in visitors. He saw the women as individuals and treated them compassionately. The woman in the lithograph was not painted for sophistication but for the reality and advertisement for the brothel/ cabaret. This was a place where wealthy gentlemen might enjoy a night out with good company by the bar. The color scheme of the lithograph is mainly primary colors this was done purposefully in order to make the bold face wording stand out for promotional sake.


Alphonse Mucha

Bieres de la Meuse, 1897

Mucha became known as the father of art nouveau during the late 1800’s. With his fanciful ideals and draping clothing, accentuating the female curves there is no doubt that Mucha had a deep appreciation for the female form. In this advertisement for beer the women is enjoying a cold beer overflowing in abundance. The woman nonchalantly daydreams off into space and the viewer is left wondering what is on her mind. She is able to appeal to women with her undeniable beauty and to men with sexuality and thirst-quenching beverage.


Jules Cheret

Loie Fuller, 1893

Cheret was most commonly known for his romantic vision expressed in his illustration and promotion work. This advertisement for a café shows a woman twirling in bliss. Her body language gives off an air of luxury and playfulness. With his technique of using, multiple colors on his lithograph gained his the reputation of the father of the colour lithograph. He did a great deal of promotional work for theaters, products, nightclubs and journals. His works often embrace the idea of females in celebration and pure happiness of freedom. He was highly regarded among many others artists and was often invited to show in exhibitions with some of the best avant-garde artist of the time.


Theophile Steinlen

Clinique Cheron, 1905

Steinlen was infused porters and advertisements sparked his popularity during this time. Most popular for his Chat Nior Café poster that features a large black cat immersed him into the world of avant-garde art. In Paris, he created over 400 Art Nouveau illustrations for local magazines. The work to the left is an advertisement for a veterinary clinic. The woman here is showing compassionate love for the creatures similar to the artists love and fascination with animals especially cats. Cats would eventually become Steinlen’s trademark. He enjoyed making genre scenes and scenes that would appeal to an array of audiences.


Eugene Samuel Grasset

Poster for Salon des Cent, 1894

Grasset was a graphic designer years before he discovered the world of illustration. In works such as Salon des Cent he uses elements commonly attributed to art Nouveau style such as tendrils, flowers and draping. By the 1890’s Grasset was designing for all types of media including lithograph and Tiffany’s stain glass windows. He was also a teacher and passed down his abilities of ornamental application to his students. The picture to the left displays a beautiful woman of literature exploring nature and making observations of her surroundings, which fit in with the typical wandering from typical roles from years before.
Pierre Bonnard

Champagne, 1889

Bonnard started out his career just after studying law taking on a job as an illustrator for champagne posters such as the one shown. In his promotional advertisement, he draws women enjoying life drinking and laughing. The bubbles of the glass mimic her flowing hair and her tilting shoulders give the allusion that she is dancing in a festival like manner, truly enjoying herself. It is said that these champagne posters influenced Lautrec own poster. He painted sophisticated scenes of Parisian life in dark outlines and boarders. His later work drifted from this style becoming much more refined and less joyous. His later subjects consisted of nudes, landscape, and still life’s.


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