Jules Chéret, Folies-Bergère, Les Hanlon-Lees
"Cheret's prodigious early output includes an array of engaging posters for obscure, yet fascinating performers. However, the musical mayhem portrayed here is actually for an extremely influential — though contemporarily-little known — troupe: the Hanlon-Lee Brothers. The Hanlon-Lees ushered in a second great age of theatrical acrobatic comedy in the mid-to late Nineteenth Century. Their rich tradition of knockabout comedy and scenic trickwork reached new levels of artistry that carried over directly into vaudeville and silent film comedy, popularized by such notables as the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. Founded in the early-1840s, the six brothers were world-renowned practitioners of "entortillation" (an invented word based upon the French term entortillage, which translates to "twisting" or "coiling": in other words, a comedically rough-and-tumble version of acrobatics and juggling. In Do Mi Sol Do, the Folies-Bergere show promoted here that ran for thirteen months, the audience was treated to an orchestra rehearsal, but one in which the musicians attacked the conductor and everything in sight was smashed to smithereens. Violent assaults and multiple explosions could not faze this conductor, lost in a Wagnerian mist. The idea for this savage parody, interpreted by the French as a satire of contemporary fashions in music, actually originated as a minstrel show skit depicting the rehearsal of an amateur band. The Hanlon-Lees had in fact performed frequently on the same stage with blackface minstrels in the United States, and in the early 1860s were themselves the subject of a minstrel parody."
"Lithography was invented in 1798, but for decades it was too slow and expensive for poster production. Most posters continued to be simple wood or metal engravings with little color or design. This all changed around 1880 with Cheret's "3 stone lithographic process," a breakthrough which allowed artists to achieve every color in the rainbow with as little as three stones - usually red, yellow and blue - printed in careful registration.
"Cheret's process nevertheless still demanded superb artistry and remarkable craftsmanship. The result was worthwhile - a remarkable intensity of color and texture, with sublime transparencies and nuances impossible in other media (even to this day). The ability to combine word and image in such an attractive and economical format finally allowed the lithographic poster to usher in the modern age of advertising. An extremely gifted artist as well, Cheret ushered in that age by creating more than 1000 posters over a 30 year career."
Another Cheret Folies Poster