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About our Belle Époque Posters Collection

This selection of authentic vintage posters exemplifies the power of the poster in its day up to the present. These were conceived to be viewed from a distance where they can grab the fleeting attention of the viewer and hold their eye for a few moments longer to deliver their message, whatever it may be.

Originally conceived for a building wall as opposed to the kiosk, these monumental posters rarely survived their moment of glory, unprotected from the sun and rain, city grime as well as the actual gluing process to the wall, done with bristle brushes used to smooth out the poster over the brick or rough wooden walls of the time, a process that often commences the deterioration process at the start.

With few exceptions, these monumental posters have at least one dimension of 60”. Some of these posters exceed 90” in height. All are framed in simple custom milled maple exhibition frames with reinforced corners. All are floated on linen. We have deliberately chosen this format for consistency in framing as well as creating a neutral design, allowing the image to jump at your viewer instead of competing with an ornate frame design as so many posters are traditionally presented.

Along with the framed poster, we include a brief history of the poster, comments on its artistic merit or significance plus a brief historical background placing the poster in its historical context.

We have a number of posters with similar imagery and artistic significance but which fall below the size threshold here. We will be happy to work with you and configure an exhibit to your parameters. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact our curator of this managed collection. He can be reached at Curator@ECM2.org or (408) 993-1111.

To Turn the pages you can:

  • Click the arrows on the navigation bar located on top of the book.
  • Use your mouse to click and drag on the page numbers at the bottom corner of the pages.
  • Scroll the thumbnails along the bottom of the screen and click on a thumbnail to take you directly to that page.

The following is a key of the different sizes for the pieces in this collection. If a piece does not fit into one of these categories, its size is listed instead of a letter. All sizes are outside dimensions of the frames so space requirements can be calculated for your exhibition.

  • D - 46" X 63"
  • E - 46" X 58.5"
  • F - 49" X 68"

Copyright © Timothy C. Duran, San Jose, CA 2016 All rights reserved.

Palais De Glace

                          Text to come.

Palais De Glace
Jules Cheret
France, 1893
Size: 98" X 34"UF

The Chap Book - Thanksgiving Number

The Chap Book - Thanksgiving Number
William Bradley
USA, 1895
Size: 22" X 29.5"UF

The Good Samaritan ~ A Sacred Play in 3 Acts

The Good Samaritan ~ A Sacred Play in Three Acts.

Sarah Bernhart was the most famous stage and film actress of the day, performing internationally as did Liane De Pougy, right up there with Enrico Caruso. So much in demand, Ms Bernhart was able to command her own performance hall named after herself.

The history of this poster is legend. Ms Bernhart was a notorious hands on actress, taking interest in all aspects of her productions. The deadline for approving the copy of her advertising material for her upcoming production The Good Samaritan, and she had no artwork to approve. She went out and approached Mr. Mucha who had recently moved to Paris, promising him additional work if he could design the artwork for this play and now.

Ms. Bernhard was so pleased with the result, Alfons Mucha became her primary posterist and Mucha’s reputation was set for the rest of his life.

La Samaritaine
Alphons Mucha
France, 1897
Size: 76" X 29.25"UF

Corriere Delle Signore

Clearly one of the most beautiful posters in the collection, CorriereDelle Signore is a woman’s periodical of the day, highlighting women’s fashion as well as homemaking suggestions. The poster follows the then current Arte Nouveau style of fluid design and heavy use of ornamentation as shown here with the sophisticated subject reading from the light through a stained glass window.


Corriere Delle Signore
Italy, 1900
Size: 65" X 36"UF

Desaymar Electric Lightbulbs

Desaymar electric bulbs looks to the retina as incandescent as gas.

Lampadine Elettriche
Giuseppe Sigon
Italy, 1905
Size: 86" X 38.5"UF

Dr. Craveri's Phosphorus Free Matches

What is so wonderful about this collection is the fascinating back story some of these posters have. For Fiammi ferisenza Fosforo, it is the match. We have all used them. There are 14” long designer matches next to the fireplace. There are heavy paper matches in match books with the cover advertising your favorite restaurant or bar, the one that always becomes evidence in a film noir Sam Spade movie. But what we all have in common is that we take the match for granted.

Google “match” and you will see pages of fascinating match history. Here is the condensed version. The match is a story of chemistry. (The little match girl comes in later.) There was a point in time when someone decided that keeping a fire burning all the time so as to not lose the flame was no longer practical. And knocking two rocks together didn’t always work when one was away from home and needed to light a fire. Chemists discovered that chemicals, when mixed together, would cause heat and then burst into flame. Voila! Not quite.

The problem with these chemicals was that they would burst into flame when they wanted to, not necessarily when you wanted them to. Phosphorus was the key agent and matches were nothing other than phosphorus on a stick. But when the ends to these sticks accidentally rubbed against each other, they would burst into flames, often in the clothes you were wearing at the moment. Physical maiming and death were not uncommon. To solve the problem, a smart chemist broke the phosphorous down into two parts. One part was dipped onto the end of a stick and the second chemical was added to a strip of friction material. Then in 1889, Joshua Pusey, an American inventor, conceived the idea of the matchbook. Attached to the side of the match book is a striking surface with chemicals in it. Didn’t know that, did you. Move the stick or now heavy paper match, against the friction paper, the two chemicals come together and presto, lung cancer was made easier to get. Diamond Match, yes that Diamond Match, bought Pusey’s patent and thought that they would get rich. Not. So what happened? Guilt. U. S. President William Howard Taft (ever notice how it is always “William Howard Taft” and not just President Taft? Or Bill Taft? We only had one President Taft so it’s not like we’re going to mix him up with a Bush or Adams. But I digress). So the President calls up Diamond Match (that as in telegram) and twists their arm. The line is that Diamond should give their patent to the world this wonderful invention. So Diamond caved. And the poor little match girl was out of a job. Diamond was out of a patent. And the tobacco companies became filthy rich.

Fiammiferi Senza Fosforo
Adolfo Hohenstein
Italy, 1895
Size: F

Cyrano De Bergerac

First, there truly was a Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) born Hercule-Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac...and he did in fact have a large nose. What about Roxanne? No one knows for sure, but authorities believe she may be based on a cousin who lived in a local convent. Cyrano joined the military as was so common at the time to meet living expenses. When his tour ended, he took to writing and became quite well known for a large body of work created in a short life span. Notably, he is credited as being one of the first published writers of science fiction. "His mixture of science and romance in the last two works furnished a model for many subsequent writers, among them Jonathan Swift, Edgar Allan Poe and probably Voltaire Corneille and Molière freely borrowed ideas from Le Pédant joué." (Courtesy Wikipedia)

This poster is not only truly effective in its depiction of Cyrano calling to arms, an important plot point in the play, but it announces the first performance of Cyrano de Bergerac, the play by Edmond Rostand which established the fictional Cyrano character we know today and which has been subsequently adapted for the screen many times.

Cyrano De Bergerac
Lucien Metivet
France, 1898
Size: 88" X 30"UF

Folies Bergere - Liane De Pougy

Begun in 1872 as Folies Trévisea as a place for light opera and popular music, the entertainment inside did not become the entertainment for which it is so well known for even today until the end of World War I.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, Edouard Manet

With the success of the Moulin Rouge's nude can and risqué acts, the Folies Bergere did the same, but on a more demure basis, with dancers wearing very ornate costumes, often bare breasted, would walk, dance and sing. Ziegfield Follies and Las Vegas style entertainment has borrowed heavily from this long tradition of very attractive young women promenading on the stage.

"Baker Banana" by Walery, French, 1863-1935

The Folies Bergere had headline acts as well, named performers with "A" billings. As Las Vegas had Frank Sinatra, Cher, Dion and others, the Folies Bergere had Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf, Liane De Pougy and many other famous entertainers of the day.

This poster, created by Paul Berthon, a well-known artist of the Belle Epoch, features Miss De Pougy as the bait caught in a spider's web. A rare photo of the actual set on the Folies Bergere's large stage shows the performers in various poses that would titillate the audience.

Liane De Pougy was not "only an actress." Known throughout Europe as one of the most beautiful woman in the world, she was sought after as a courtesan by European nobility as well as the industrialists and moneyed. Ms De Pougy was not unlike Cher, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, or any number of similar A List personalities of the day, generating numerous biographies written about her life. Her presence in the Follies brought in huge sums of money for the owners and set a standard for Paris entertainment establishments of the time.

Folies Bergere - Liane De Pougy
Paul Berthon
France, 1896
Size: 63" X 24"

Caffaro - Political Newspaper, Founded 1874

The transition between a monarchy and a Republican form of government took nearly ten years, essentially mirroring the time of the conflicts in the American Civil War.

Since there were so many city-states with their independent political parties, the formation of Italy as we know it today was a political act that continues today. Although fewer today, after World War II, there were in excess of fifty different political parties throughout Italy. It is understandable that there would be a publication directed at these politicos and Caffaro was one of the best at the time.

Giovanni Mataloni
Italy, 1900
Size: 92" X 44"UF

Louvre Department Store Sells Christmas Gifts

How fun it must have been to visit the largest department store on earth during Christmas. Taking an entire city block on Rue Rivoli across from the Louvre in Paris, a building still standing, Grands Magasins was divided into various depart-
ments not unlike Bloomingdales in New York City or Harrod’s in London are today. Home furnishings, men’s clothing, carpets, toys, a restaurant---everything you need for one stop shopping during the height of the Belle Epoch.

Jules Cheret, the undisputed master posterist of the day, clearly displays his greatness in showing the joys of Christmas on the faces of these children having fun with the presents purchased from Grands Magasins. What kind of parent could pass up the opportunity to partake in this joy Grands Magasins offers children and adults alike. It is the job of the posterist to conceive of a design and text that sells Grands Magasins and the toy store brings joy and smiling faces to all.

Grands Magasins du Louvre / Jouets
Jules Cheret
France, 1891
Size: 101" X 39"

Exposition Decennale De L'Automobile Au Grand Palais

Although the commercial production of the automobile had only been around for a few years (Ford did not start producing his Model T until 1908) the public was enamored with the contraption. Large venues for the exhibition of what was to become known as motorcars plus airplanes and motorcycles occurred all over Europe.

Since service stations, automobile lots and dealerships did not exist yet, the trade show became the popular and common way for a manufacturer to meet potential clients and make sales.

In 1908 during the 11th Paris Motor Show… that show’s organizer, Gustave Rives, set up an aeronautical exhibition for the few flying machines in France at that time. The success of the aeronautical display at the automobile show led the next year to the “Exposition de la Locomotion Aerienne,” a full exhibition of aircraft with 380 exhibitors and some 100,000 visitors. The show was hosted by France’s first aerospace industries’ trade association, the Chambre Syndicale de L’industrie Aeronautique, created by pioneer aircraft manufacturers such as Louis Bleriot, Louis-Charles Breguet and Gabriel Voisin. The aircraft were floated on barges up the Seine and carried on horse-drawn wagons to the Grand Palais.

Rives published substantial reports on these shows.

Between 1901 and 1910, Rives was manager and organizer for special events at the Grand Palais in Paris, particularly the popular automobile and aeronautical shows. For each one, he designed elaborate temporary decorations. The aeronautical show was a spin-off from the auto shows.

Exposition Decennale De L'Automobile
France, 1907
Size: 46.25" X 96"UF

Wine - Vermouth, Cinzano Company

                          Text to come.

Adolpho Hohenstein
Italy, 1898
Size: 67" X 39"UF

A La Tour St. Jacques

                          Text to come.

A La Tour St. Jacques
France, 1885
Size: 38" X 58"UF

Mele & Company, Italian Department Store in Naples Has the Largest Assortment of Childrens Clothes with Guaranteed Best Prices.

Knowing the importance of consistency in advertising imagery, Mele authorized some of the most beautiful posters ever created in Europe. They were always large, depicting beautiful people in magnificent clothes they buy only at Mile. Whether it be for men’s clothing, women’s fashion or children’s clothes, all could be found at Mile.

Located in Naples, one of the poorest areas of Italy, the region suffered during the 1930’s world depression with many people in the area migrating to the United States. With fewer customers with less money to spend, this great department store closed in 1932.

Magazzini Mele & C.
Italy, 1900
Size: 66" X 45"UF

Cream of the Orient - Powder and Soap

Orientalism was the rage during the 19th Century. This Pal poster, the artist’s own contraction of his name, successfully ties the model’s near eastern attire into the name of the product, Cream of the Orient. “Orient” did not mean Asia or the Near East at the time, it was a loosely used term to describe anything non-European. So Northern Africa, Persia and the Near East qualify as does China, Japan and the Far East.

Creme Orientale - Poudre & Savon
Jean De Paleologue
France, 1898
Size: F

Velleda Acatene

Acatene is the name of a chainless bicycle unique in its method of creating torque with a driveshaft, a gear at the end that connects to the axel at right angles thereby doing away with the traditional chain system together with the grease and dirt that came with it.

The posterist apparently needed to refer to G & J Tires, perhaps for joint payment of the bill. You rarely see a bicycle ad allowing another product to compete with the viewer’s focus as happens here. In the sun above the eagle it says "Vae Catenis", or "woe to chains". Velleda was a legendary Germanic priestess and leader of the Batavian uprising against the Romans. (Think Russell Crowe in the first scene of Gladiator, best picture, 2000.)

This is an excellent example of art nouveau. The poster gushes the sinuous, long and curvy lines often of a botanical nature. Not only do we have all the traditional trademarks of the style here, but he have mythology as a theme as well, which was so popular at the time.

Velleda Acatene
Lucien Baylac
France, 1898
Size: 63" X 46"UF

Cycles Rochet

This is a simple yet elegant poster with little to distract the viewer from the name of the product and the handsome man riding it.

Cycles Rochet
Oliver Pichat
France, 1900
Size: 74" X 47"UF

Cycles Dion - Bouton

De Dion-Bouton was one of the first automobile manufactures whose success was based on their engineering skill and quality of construction. Unlike cars of today, these early automobiles were steam propelled and far easier to operate than the combustion engine of the time.

As their automobiles became successful, De Dion, the entrepreneur of the company, visualized a smaller version of their automobile and came up with the tricycle concept. After several design changes by Bouton, this became the famous De Dion-Bouton "petite voiture" that remained in production for another six years. From 1890 through the end of WWI, De Dion-Bouton was the largest automobile manufacturer in Europe, but by 1950, it had ceased operations.

Here, Misti (pen name for Ferdinand Misti-Mifliez) sells the product first, then the sex. The tricycle is cleanly designed and pops out from the solid red background. The attractive girl on the bike enjoying herself is entirely secondary to the product and the product’s name. Compare this poster to Motorcycles Comiot for a completely different effect. (See page 38).

Cycles Dion - Bouton
France, 1895
Size: 60" X 44"UF

Motorcycles Comiot

Whereas Cycles Dion features the clear image of its product, (As seen on page 36), Steinlen chooses to sell the attractive young woman and her enjoyment of using the product.

Upon close inspection, both motorized tricycles look very similar. Unfortunately, the sizzle didn’t last while the Cycles Dion streak lasted until the 1950’s. But the real winner is Steinlen’s poster design here, which has found itself into many museum collections and widely exhibited throughout the world.

Motocycles Comiot
Theophil Steinlen
France, 1899
Size: 85" X 61"


If you find that you have more gallery space than the previous collection will fill, we offer the following pieces to extend or enhance your exhibition. Please contact director@ecm2.org for more information, details and pricing.


Exposition Internationale, Brussels

Exposition Internationale, Brussels

Paul Berthon

Belgium, 1896


Size: 108" X 50"UF

Cycle and Automobile Show - Milan

Mostra Del Ciclo E Dell Automobile - Milano

Leopoldo, Metlicovitz

Italy, 1905


Size: 77.5" X 55"UF

Cycle and Automobile Show - Milan

Mostra Del Ciclo E Dell Automobile - Milano

Leopoldo, Metlicovitz

Italy, 1907


Size: 78" X 54"UF

The Enraged Bull

La Vache Enragee


France, 1896


59" X 43"UF

Esposiziono Internazionali-Roma-Torino

Esposiziono Internazionali

Mario Borgoni

Italy, 1911


Size: 61" X 83"UF

Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly

Leopoldo, Metlicovitz

Italy, 1904


Size: 57" X 39.75"UF

Slovakian Epic

Slavanska Epope

Alphonse Mucha

Czech Republic, 1928


Size: 91" X 44"

Van Houten # 15710

Van Houten # 15710

Adolphe Willette

France, 1904


Size: 75" X 25"UF

The Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth

Edward Henry, Potthast

USA, 1895


Size: 82.5" X 39"UF



Francisco, Tamagno

France, 1899


Size:74.25" X 48.75"UF

Quinquina Bonnet

Quinquina Bonnet


France, 1910


Size:76" X 43"UF



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