My love of, and romance with, posters began years ago when I wandered into a gallery in Chicago while there on Vacation. In this small, out-of-the-way shop, I saw two Maitre de L’Affiche posters – small gems printed in the last few years of the 1800’s by what I later learned was on of the best printers in Paris, Chaix. Beautifully framed, simply elegant, and reminiscent of simpler times long past, these two lithographs of women on bicycles (a favorite Art Nouveau and Art Deco theme) spoke to me in a way which surprised me. In short, they insisted – quite forcefully – that I take them home. And I did!
When I began collecting, I didn’t know more than the fact that I liked my two small beauties and wondered if there were more like them. In fact, Chaix took what is considered to be the best posters of the times and re-issued them in smaller, easier to manage sizes. Subscribers would get 4 small posters a month, and occasionally a bonus poster thrown in for good measure. In total, the Maitres de L’Affiche includes posters by some of the greatest artists of the Belle Epoque – American, French, British – and some of the most recognizable images of the late 1800s and early 1900s. My collection began modestly – like most love affairs do – with a small number of Maitres that I would find here and there and frame with great seriousness and Solemnity.
To hear more about how my poster romance began to exceed to bounds of modesty, you’ll have to wait for Pt. 2 of Romance on a Grand Scale.