Born in 1836, Jules Chéret is regarded as the ‘father’ of the modern poster. He began studying lithography at the age of 13 and at 16 was taking classes at the Ecole Nationale de Dessin [National School of Art]. He made his first black-and-white posters in 1855 and then spent from 1859 to 1866 in London studying colour lithography. It was through Chéret that lithography, which had fallen into disrepute amongst artists of the mid 19th century, began a revival that later became known as the colour revolution.
Among his best known works are the posters he designed for American dancer Loïe Fuller, who made her debut at Paris’s Folies Bergère in 1893. Fuller’s repertoire consisted of four dances, each of which had its own lighting. La Loïe Fuller captures perfectly the sense of diaphanous light and swirling movement of these performances, and is one of the great masterpieces of the genre.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra