Posters have been used for centuries. Textual posters advertised the plays of Shakespeare and government proclamations. The great revolution came with the development of printing techniques such as lithography and later, chromolithography, which allowed mass editions of vibrantly coloured posters to be printed. By the 1890s, the technique had spread throughout Europe, with noted artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha creating poster art.
At the same time, the various rail companies in the early days of steam began to incorporate pictorial images in posters advertising their routes and destinations. In 1905, the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) commissioned Norman Wilkinson to produce artwork for new landscape posters advertising their rail/steam packet link to Ireland.And not just Britain: the 1920s and ’30s saw the production of posters advertising destinations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, even Russia.
Designed to be ephemeral, many of these works of art have nonetheless survived and fine original examples are much sought after. Christies this year held an “Art of Travel” auction during the Cannes Film Festival, with some posters achieving prices in the tens of thousands. For those of us with smaller budgets, many similar works can be bought as reprints – either full size or as or postcards – which can make for some stylish but inexpensive décor.
Still musing on updates for our English house, I’ve hit on the idea of framing a selection of postcards in matching frames. These are destinations that can be reached by train from the house:These are beachy/lakeside places we’ve actually been to: And these are fantasy destinations:…well, we can all dream!