Les Maitres de l'Affiche
Les Maitres de l'Affiche (The Poster Masters) was the prestigious publication of a monthly portfolio of poster prints of the greatest posters of the Belle Époque. Selected by one of the early poster chroniclers, Roger Marx, the series appeared between 1896 and 1900. The posters were issued as separate numbered sheets, referred to as plates, "PL.1" to "PL.240." In the margin at the bottom right hand corner is a blind embossed stamp from a design of Cheret. Each plate measures 11 3/8 in. x 15 3/4 in. The smaller format and the fact Les Maitres was a paid subscription series, allowed for the use of high quality paper and the latest printing techniques, not normally used in the large format posters due to cost and a short expected life span. In addition to the 240 posters, 16 special plates (SPPL.) were issued. They were unique original lithographs done exclusively for Les Maitres de l'Affiche. Cheret designed seven of the 16, two by Steinlen, two by Willette, and single designs by Ibels, de Feure, Crafty, Berthon and Leandre. Other artists represented in Les Maitres de l'Affiche were painters and printmakers, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Vallotton; illustrators and cartoonists, Forain, Caran d'Ache, Leandre; and those whose names say "poster" Cheret, Mucha, Steinlen, Beggarstaffs, Grasset, Penfield, Parrish, Bradley, Hardy... After the significant commercial success of the Les Maitres de l'Affiches, two other similar in style and quality series were released offering a wonderful selection of the greatest posters of the day. Les Affiches Etrangères was dedicated to foreign poster artists such as Bradley and Mignot. Les Affiches Illustrées was published in two bound volumes with 84 lithograph plates including Cheret, Lautrec, Steinlen, Mucha, Grassat, Choubrac... Each plate measures 8 1/2 in x 12 in. The printing was limited to only 1025, making them very rare indeed.