ARTISTS / Chéret, Jules
Jules Chéret was a French painter and lithographer who became a master of color lithography and revolutionized poster art. He was born in 1836 in Paris to a poor family of artisans. Jules Chéret had very limited formal education, due to the family's poverty. At age thirteen, he began a three-year apprenticeship with a lithographer and then his talent and interest in painting led him to take an art course at the Ecole Nationale de Dessin.
Like many artists, Chéret studied the techniques of his art, by visiting museums. Although his painting was admired at the time, it was creating advertising posters that eventually became his focus and for which he is remembered today. Chéret opened his own print shop in Paris in 1866, and his work continued to inspire emulators in Europe and America. (From 1881 on, his shop operated as a branch of the large firm, Imprimerie Chaix.) Influenced by the scenes of frivolity depicted in the works of Jean-Honore Fragonard and other Rococo artists such as Antoine Watteau, Chéret created vivid poster ads for the cabarets, music halls, and theaters such as the Eldorado, the Olympia, the Folies Bergeres, Theatre de l'Opera, the Alcazar d'Ete and the Moulin Rouge. Increasingly in demand, he expanded his business to providing advertisements for department stores, the plays of touring troupes, municipal festivals, and then for beverages and liquors, perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and patent medicines. It was his technical strides in improving the methods of color lithography and his prodigious output, for which he received contemporary fame and the sobriquet:"father of the poster."
In 1895, Chéret created the Maitres de l'Affiche, a significant art publication of smaller sized reproductions featuring the best works of contemporary poster artists. His success inspired an industry that saw the emergence of a new generation of poster designers and painters such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Leonetto Cappiello. One of Chéret's students was Georges de Feure.
Jules Chéret retired to the French Riviera at Nice. He died in 1932 at the age of ninety-six and was buried in the Cimetiere Saint-Vincent in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris. In 1933 he was honored with a posthumous exhibition of his work at the prestigious Salon d'Automne in Paris. Chéret's posters have been consistently collected by connoisseurs from around the world.
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