In the latest look at print that shook the world we introduce Frenchman Jules Chéret – known as the father of the modern poster. Born in 1836, Chéret was a French painter and lithographer who became the master of Belle Epoque poster art. Belle Epoque (the ‘beautiful era’) was the retrospective name given to the period of French history between 1880 and the outbreak of the Great War – a period which saw France’s cultural and artistic climate flourish.
Chéret trained in lithography in London. On returning to France he began creating vibrant posters for the thriving cabarets, theatres and music halls of Paris, most notably the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergère.
Demand for his work rocketed and he soon began producing advertisements – first for touring troupes and festivals, and then for products such as liquor, perfume and cosmetics. His work found a larger audience, and he was championed as the ‘father of the women’s liberation’ due to his art depicting women as free-spirited, joyous and lively. Indeed, such was his influence on the style and behaviour of Parisienne women at the time that they began to be known as ‘Cherettes’.
Chéret’s success inspired an industry and a new generation of designers and artists including Toulouse-Lautrec whose name is arguably more commonly associated with this kind of image.
In 1890, Chéret was awarded the Legion d'honneur by the French Government for his outstanding contribution to the graphic arts. He died in 1932 aged ninety-six. Over the years, Cheret’s original prints and early works have become highly sought after by collectors, with the rarest examples selling for several thousand dollars. His colorful, joyful images live on.