"Posters a la Carte" Food & Drink Posters from Absinthe to Jello at International Poster Gallery

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • October 01, 2013

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Joseph Stall, Champagne Joseph Perrier, 1920. Stall’s fanciful “grape lady” expresses the fun that champagne brings to every occasion.
Courtesy of International Poster Gallery
Marcello Nizzoli, Cordial Campari, 1926. Nizzoli used the language of Cubism to create a handsome still-life of Campari and a seltzer bottle for the leading Italian aperitif wine.
Courtesy of International Poster Gallery

International Poster Gallery is proud to present “Posters a la Carte”, an exhibition and sale of original vintage Food & Drink posters from the Belle Epoque to the 1960s. The exhibition will trace the development of the food and beverage industry and its use of posters from absinthe to Coca-Cola and from Foie Gras to Jello. Featuring over 50 posters, the show will examine the multitude of approaches taken by poster artists to make their ads memorable – humor, sex, caricature, fantasy, charm and eye popping tromp l’oeil affects, among others. “Posters a la Carte” has begun and runs through November 22, 2013.  Gallery hours are Mon. through Sat.10 am to 6 pm and Sun. noon to 6 pm.  The Gallery is located at 205 Newbury Street, Boston.  Call (617) 375-0076 or visit www.internationalposter.com.

The new advertising medium of the lithographic poster became one of the most visible symbols of the Belle Époque, the “Beautiful Epoch” of the 1890s in Paris and in major cities in Europe and the US. Along with posters of travel, entertainment, fashion and politics, food and drink posters proliferated on city walls, as many of the products became staples for the burgeoning middle class. Paris alone had nearly 30,000 cafes in 1895, and the whole of France claimed 435,000 -- one for every 80 inhabitants! Drinking was a way of life, and by 1890 beer and wine were but two of the most popular.

The exhibition begins with a classic 1894 poster by Jules Cheret, the father of the color lithographic poster, for the French tonic wine Vin Mariani, which until 1910 was spiked with cocaine. Effortlessly floating through the air, a beautiful “Cherette” pours a glass and seems to express the carefree pleasure of the age. Two other works in the exhibition capture the essence of the era. Absinthe Parisienne of 1896 reveals the naughty side, with a sorcerer in black tempting a young damsel with the tag line “Try it and you will see.” And T.A. Steinlen’s famous 1894 portrait of his daughter giving milk to her cats in Lait Pur Sterilise de la Vingeanne captures the era in its most charming intimacy.      


At the same time as spirit makers were evolving into large enterprises, some food categories such as olive oil, chocolate, biscuits, pasta and cheese became commercially significant as well. A wonderful example is the little schoolboy ad Lulu Biscuits by Firmin Bousset printed originally in 1897 for Lefevre Utile, a large manufacturer still in existence today.

The new century brought a host of new products and manufacturing sophistication. In 1900, leading product poster artist Leonetto Cappiello would make hundreds of these products well known and unforgettable through humor, bright color and wild metaphors. What better way to promote a “pick me up” drink than to show a playfully devilish statue of a satyr coming to life while drinking it through a straw, as in his Menthe Pastille of 1906? Achille Mauzan, another top artist, created a timeless close-up for Bertozzi Parmiggiano in 1924 of 3 elderly Italians crowding around a cheese wheel, savoring its aroma.

Jules Cheret, Vin Mariani, 1894. The carefree pleasures of the Belle Epoch are expressed perfectly in this poster for a tonic wine spiked with cocaine. Cheret was the father of the color lithographic poster, perfecting the printing process that allowed for rich, vibrant color posters.
Courtesy of International Poster Gallery

The Art Deco era of the 1930s, while creating many streamlined, modernist images for food and drink products, did not abandon the use of humor either. Marcello Nizzoli in 1926 created two stunning Cubist inspired posters for Campari, the leading Italian aperitif that had commissioned first-rate posters continuously since the 1890s. The Germans and especially the Swiss pursued the Object Poster, a simple but dramatic style that eliminated most text and focused on the object.  A fine example is Herbert Leupin’s 1939 poster for Bell of a gigantic carving board with cold cuts and bacon - a visual shock with a touch of levity in the pickle used as garnish. A.M. Cassandre, the most important poster artist of the era, created perhaps the most famous advertising character for Dubonnet that merged Art Deco style with the Cappiello approach in 1932.

The Fifties would witness the rise of the global brand, and the poster adapted to the baby boom economy.

The predominant style was relaxed, playful and youthful. Perfect examples from the show include Herbert Leupin’s series for Coca-Cola, Pepita and Eptinger, and some anonymous American posters for Jello

The exhibition will conclude with a small group of posters from World War I and II for food conservation, an essential factor in the Allied success in both wars.

Food and beverage posters comprise one of the most popular categories of vintage poster collecting, and are perennial favorites in kitchens and dining rooms as well as in bars and restaurants. States IPG President Jim Lapides: “Even after decades of vintage poster collecting, many superb posters in this category are surprisingly affordable and offer great opportunity for new and sophisticated collectors alike.”


In addition to gallery shows and special exhibitions, IPG’s award-winning website, www.internationalposter.com offers one of the largest, most comprehensive online collections of vintage advertising posters in the world.  Originally launched in 1998, the site contains nearly 5000 images accessible through a powerful search engine.

Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC
8 Allenwood Street
Boston, Massachusetts
About Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC

Founded in 1979 by principals Tony Fusco and Robert Four, Fusco & Four is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations agency, specializing in the arts, lifestyle, leisure and luxury clients. The agency has worked with more than 300 arts-related clients over the past 30 years, including museums, classical music groups, galleries, auction houses, show promoters, internationally-known brands and Internet-based companies in the arts and antiques field. Fusco & Four also produces three annual art and design shows in Boston: the Boston International Fine Art Show, AD 20/21: Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries, and The Ellis Boston Antiques Show. Please direct inquiries to Tony Fusco.

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