Friday, 6 January 2012

Absinthe posters

I have a great liking for poster art - particularly that of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. One theme that shows off some of the best of the Art Nouveau posters is absinthe drinking.

Absinthe was first created in 1792 by Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Switzerland. His intention was to deliver the extract of the wormwood plant (which had long been known to have powerful healing effects) in a handy form.

At the end of the nineteenth century, absinthe was embraced by the literary bohemian crowd who gathered in European cafes and claimed the Green Fairy (La Fee Verte) as their muse and inspiration.

One of the most iconic art nouveau images of all, this 1896 image for Absinthe Robette by the Belgian posterist Privat-Livemont has spawned a million reproductions.

An unrecorded lithographic poster for Rosinette, Absinthe Rosé Oxygénée, printed by Camis around 1900.

Absinthe extra superior - J Edouard Pernot by Leonett Cappiello

Absinthe Parisienne poster by P.Gelis-Didot and Louis Malteste

Absinthe Vichet poster from 1896 - a quintessential Art Nouveau poster.

Leonetto Cappiello's famous poster for Absinthe Ducros Fils.

Two posters for La Fee Verte - I don't know who they were by.

This Absinthe bourgeois poster by the Mourgue brothers shows an Absinthe loving black cat enjoying a glass of the company's product. Nicknamed the'Chat Noir', it has became one of the best-loved Absinthe images.

All this publicity and the great growth of absinthe drinking caused a backlash and a large number of healthy, non-alcoholic alternatives appeared.  They too had their posters both advertising their virtues and equating absinthe drinking with an early death. I shall blog about them another day.


  1. Gorgeous posters. My favourite absinthe image is the one by Degas, though.

    I really, really love the absinthe scene in Bram Stoker's Dracula because they got it right. No fire.

  2. Some TV adverts are quite clever, but they are lousy to frame and hang on the wall! Which I think is why poster art remains so popular. The drawings are good, and the colours are superb.

    Thanks for sharing all these great images.
    Hugs, Carol

  3. I love the Degas as well, Jedediah.

  4. Do you know Alfons Mucha? In the 1980s, I've been to Prague several times and bought a series of Mucha posteres there, they adorned the walls of my bedroom at home for some years. I don't think the two unknown absinthe posters are by him, but the work reminds me of his.

  5. I didn't know Mucha, Librarian, but looking at some images the second fairy poster is a very similar style, isn't it.

  6. My brother-in-law used to tell a story about a lonely drunken stag, which went on for ages and ended with the line, "absinthe makes the hart grow fonder."

    Sorry, couldn't resist!


  7. I knew that absinthe made the sweetheart wander, Carol!

  8. They are just glorious!


  9. Oooh, I like it. The better the pun, the louder the groans! Hugs, Carol

  10. Lots of posters here. The one with the cat my favourite.

  11. Thanks for sharing these Absinthe posters. Too bad I don’t know what year they were created.
    Grace|employment posters

  12. The second from the bottom is 'The Green Fairy' by Aly Fell

  13. "La Fee Verte" was designed by Aly Fell in 2010. This is a new poster design. She is very talented. Her work has been stolen from her by others. This is what she had to say about it,"The Absinthe Fairy - Just a reminder to myself as much as anything, that this is MY image, so here's its creation. Completed for Chow 158 on ConceptArt (.org) four years ago. I'm currently in a very one-sided dialogue with a US based company, who shall remain nameless (for now...) who have 'ripped this off' onto a series of jewellery items. After previous dialogue, where they informed me they'd removed the items for sale, it now appears they haven't. I offered a reasonable license fee to them to legitimize the misuse - no reply. So my tether, which is very long (and patient) is now at its end. " I think its such a shame her work has been just taken. If your interested in following her, you can find her on Facebook.


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