Sound the horns, the poster comes to life in Europe and America in the 1880s and ’90s.
Paris led the way in the old world with eye-catching posters popping up all over, usually drawing attention to a performance, usually by a woman. Above trombonist, Marguerite Dufay, must have been something to see. Found here.
These are more typical of late 19th century Parisienne posters where a pretty face and a narrow waist mattered most, not the musicianship.
Artists who eventually became extremely well known joined the poster making brigade. This nice poster above by Pierre Bonnard. Others who were part of the same bunch and well regarded, poster-wise, are not well known today, outside poster collectors , but the work holds up.
Nice one by Franz Hazenplug (who?) above.
Theophile Steinlen, Swiss born, the great observer of cats and children, 1859 – 1923, produced the above milky scene.
Above by Cappiello of lady about town, smokin’ and sippin’ champagne. He went on to a long career as a poster specialist and was very influential in the first 30 years of the 20th century
Next 6 above from the well stocked Poster Show, seen here.
Crossing the Atlantic at the end of the 19th century, you found that America had lots of posters too. But with some differences from the old world.
American women were often depicted working at things other than singing and dancing, smoking or drinking champagne.
Ladies Home Journal poster 1896. Not a smoke or a drink in sight. She seems to be a physician (look at that bag) on her break.
This above by Will Bradley, 1894, is a thoroughly modern, new world woman, in blue. Above 3 from the New York Public Library collection, see here
And of course commerce was a big deal in the new world. And posters were the major form of spreading the word about products–the humblest of household goods could warrant a nice poster, like the above for the “clean honest appetizing” soups from Franco American.
Or this for International Baking Powder, featuring a girl cat instead of a girl girl. Above 2 from here
But in the end, on both sides of the Atlantic, the show was the thing. Amazing Annie Oakley, peerless lady wing shot, was all American, but she traveled across the Atlantic with Buffalo Bill Cody’s troupe in 1887.
Perhaps she got a chance to see Miss Sarah Bernhardt in Paris performing Hamlet also 1887 . That would have been quite a conversation.
Thanks to the poster makers and their hostesses, we get a pretty good idea of what people wanted to see and do over 100 years ago. It’s like a fabulous scrapbook found under the bed.