Size: 26.25 x 14 inches
Artist: Paolo Henri
I love typography and posters that put typography front and centre - like this very early French poster for a bicycle company called Cycles Gladiator. Founded in 1891 by Jean Aucoq and Alexandre Darracq, Gladiator was created with the goal of producing high-quality products of excellent reputation. Their brand earnt a sporty image, motivating them to create high-speed bicycles - a precursor to the cars they would later manufacture and become known for. Apparently their cheap prices caused problems for the British bicycle industry and, in 1896, an English financial syndicate that included Harry Lawson of Dunlop bought the cycle firms of Clement, Gladiator, and the French branch of Humber. The range of cycles was expanded to include tricycles and quadricycles, a motorized bicycle in 1902, and then motorcycles and cars.
Hundreds of years later, old Gladiator ads are seeing a resurgence in popularity due to a renewed appreciation of their poster art often designed by famous artists of the day. This one is credited to Paolo Henri, a French artist who was the mastermind behind numerous Belle Époque ads featuring delicate women in oversized bonnets, impossibly thin waists, and the finest ornate, frilly clothing. A true artist of his time!
Recently linen-backed and in very good condition.