Jean Paleologue Posters Shaped Modern Advertising

It was an era of monumental change. Life was moving faster each day. Bicycles promised new freedoms. Automobiles promised even more. The middle class was expanding, along with disposable income. New products of all types flooded the market. Affordable papers and printing methods created a boom in newspapers, magazines and advertising. In the midst of these changes, Jean Paleologue Posters reflected a dynamic era as he helped to shape modern advertising.

It’s The Sizzle That Sells

Some form of advertising has been around since the earliest civilizations. Humans with services or products to sell used features, benefits, logos and gimmicks to persuade others to buy their wares.  By 1836,  Emile de Girardin sold space to advertisers in his Parisian newspaper La Presse. By the late 1800s advertisers were exploiting new social freedoms and technologies. It wasn’t long before they capitalized on the idea that “sex sells.”

Early poster art became the medium for the emerging “science” of advertising for a wide range of products and services. As advertising evolved, many famed poster artists flourished. Among them was Jean Paleologue. He was hired by a long line of clients to illustrate ads. He specialized in hotels, sporting events, entertainment venues, the lottery, and expositions. His clients included manufacturers of bicycles, automobiles and roller skates. Products ranged from soap to toothpaste, cigarettes, copy machines and many more. He was also a favorite of luxury markets including wines, liqueurs and champagnes.

Jean Paleologue Thrived In The New Poster Art

Painter, poster artist and illustrator,  Paleologue (or Paleologu) often signed his works PAL. Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1855, he was said to be the direct descendant of the last Christian emperor of Byzantine.

He trained in England and began his career there as an illustrator. One of his biggest clients was Vanity Fair magazine for which he drew many famous caricatures of public figures. He worked for several other publications throughout his career, including French magazines, and later the New York Herald Tribune and The Strand Magazine.

Paleologue Moved To Paris in 1893 where he produced roughly 100 brilliant posters that remain some of his best-known works. Many featured famous entertainers for popular venues including the Folies Berger and music halls. Among his famed subjects were La Lolie Fuller, Jane Avril and La Jolie Thero.

Following in the footsteps of Jules Cheret, Paleologue utilized new stone lithography techniques that allowed him to master the effects of light and shadow and to produce vibrant colors in his posters.

Cheret included work by Jean Paleogogue in his Masters of the Poster project (Maîtres de l’Affiche), an art publication that included 256 color lithographic plates by 97 artists. The prints were sold to subscribers who received monthly packages of selected posters from December of 1895 to November of 1900.

Poster Art Became The Era’s Equivalent Of Social Media Photo Sharing

Affordable mass production had become possible, allowing stacks of prints to be plastered across public spaces. These brilliant new-generation posters caught the eyes of passers-by on busy boulevards. The posters became so coveted that people routinely stole them to decorate their homes. They soon became the Belle Époque’s answer to Social Media.

Jean Paleologue Posters Captured Changing Times

Among Jean Paleologue’s most famous posters are those advertising the newfangled bicycles. Most featured sensual young women posing in ethereal light and drenched in color. Like the Jules Cheret Cherettes, these models embodied a new ideal of emerging female freedoms. While cycles and the ladies who rode them met great resistance from some factions of society, his posters fueled the growing bicycle craze.

Later, he found lucrative work in the automobile industry. He created posters and illustrations for three Paris Automobile Salons and many other car shows. In 1905 he produced more than twenty panoramic oils on canvas of road races for New York’s Importers Automobile Salon.

That same year he illustrated a catalogue for Fiat. He illustrated the Ormond-Daytona automobile races for Automobile Topics magazine and posters for the Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Race.

According to Jack Rennert in his book Posters of the Belle Époque: The Wine Spectator Collection Paleologue came to America with Sarah Bernhardt in 1900. He settled in New York where he worked as a portrait painter, illustrator, and cartoon animator. He painted a portrait of President Taft in 1908 and designed a number of billboards.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1923. In 1927 he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. The Department of Agriculture commissioned him to paint twenty-one paintings to advertise the state of Florida. He died in 1942.

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