Les Maitres de l’Affiche

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Les Maitres de l’Affiche (or Masters of the Poster) first appeared in 1896, and collected together some of the most iconic poster designs of the French Belle Epoque. Published monthly and eventually running to 240 colour lithographic plates, each poster was reproduced in exquisite detail, with vivid colours that leapt out from every page. The posters were selected for inclusion by Jules Cheret, a French painter and lithographer who has been called the father of French poster art.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s iconic posters, notably for the Folies Bergeres, appear throughout the volumes. Although most of the featured artists were French (reflective of the fact that poster design reached its zenith in that country during this period), the publication also featured artists from abroad, including many by Alphonse Mucha. The series also contains an example by Maurice Greiffenhagen, who taught at the School between 1906 and 1926.

Les Maitres was originally published in monthly installments of 4 plates, which built up into a collection from 1896-1900. We hold an almost complete 5 volume set, which are recorded in the School’s Annual Reports as having been donated by Andrew Allan in 1911-1912. Interestingly, we also hold two prize books that were awarded to Allan for life drawing whilst a student at the School.

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