About the poster.....

Printed public advertisements can be traced to the 15th century, the poster as it is understood today did not emerge until around 1860, given impetus by the invention of lithography, which allowed brilliantly coloured posters to be produced cheaply and easily. The first of the great modern poster artists, Jules Cheren, began his career in 1867 with a theatrical poster announcing a performance by Sarah Bernhardt. His captivating depictions of the entertainers of Parisian night life, rendered in clear, radiant colours, dominated Paris displays for the last 30 years of the 19th century and also attracted others to the medium.

Interest in the poster was heightened by the appearance in the 1890's of the style known as Art Nouveau, characterised by flowing, organic lines, elegant grace, and a richly complex symbolism. Because it combined decorative brilliance with a faith that fine art could be popular and useful, the movement found the poster a natural form. Art Nouveau posters ranged from grand theatre announcements to advertisements for cigarette papers and chocolate, that remain unsurpassed in beauty and inventiveness.

With the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, the poster became an art that could influence history. Prior to the ascendancy of motion pictures and television, it was politically the most important of all visual media. It was easily produced and immediate in impact, and it could be posted wherever there was a public to see it. An outstanding example is James Montgomery Flagg's famous U.S. recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer, a forceful call to patriotism during World War 1.

The industrial boom of the early 20th century gave rise to advertising posters for every conceivable product and event. The onslaught of radio and television and an almost complete reliance on photography in advertising, however, brought about an eclipse in poster art.

From the 1960's on, a regeneration of popular art forms, beginning with popular music, led to a new interest in posters. Today, posters announcing countless events, ranging from government election campaigns to circuses coming to town, still echo the golden age of the poster of the 1890's.


Unit 27B, Park View Industrial Estate, Hartlepool, TS25 1UD | tel: 01429 274455 | e-mail: enquiries@posterdistribution.com