Cheret, Jules

In 1858, Jules Chéret printed his first color poster in France. He ultimately became known as “the father of modern lithography,” as well as the “father of the poster.”

Chéret revolutionized the look of posters, using illustrations as the dominant features while reducing text to a minor explanatory role. Chéret’s methods gave rise to visually charming commercial posters that were understandable to all.

Chéret became known for his popular bright orange, blue and green music hall posters. He realized a poster did not have to show product; it merely had to produce “a reaction of amusement, curiosity, excitement or some positive feeling which will help make the right points,” as Harold Hutchinson writes in The Poster: An Illustrated History From 1860. Hutchinson notes that by 1880, Chéret was so good at his craft that a Paris art critic wrote, “there was a thousand times more talent in the smallest of Chéret’s posters than in the majority of the pictures on the walls of the Paris Salon.”

The reign of the poster began to fade after 1900. For most of the artists who had pioneered the field (including Chéret), the poster craze simply represented a stage of development for their talents. Many of the most prominent poster artists moved into other fields of research and work. Such is the case with Jules Chéret who, after producing more than 1000 posters in his illustrious career, turned to painting. In 1906, his absence from the Parisian poster scene was regretted by many Parisians could often be heard saying “Why are the eyes of passers-by offended by such hideous advertisements? Oh! for the good old days of Chéret’s posters!”

In 1928, the French government inaugurated the Chéret Museum in Nice. In 1932, in this same city, Chéret was overcome with blindness, and died. Jules Chéret passed away at the age of 96, leaving a legacy in the world of art rivaled by few. Today his posters,  paintings, and other works of art are some of the most collected items from the period.