ABSINTHE ROBETTE

Georges Privat-Livemont
ABSINTHE ROBETTE
lithograph
January 1898

January 1898

Original lithograph printed in colors on wove paper

Dated and signed on the stone lower right 1896 / Privat Livemont.

A superb impression of the definitive state, from the edition on this paper (there was also a small edition printed on Japan paper). Transcribed from Privat Livemont’s 1896 poster of the same title by artisans at Atelier Chéret and issued as plate 104 (of 256) in the series Le Maîtres de l’Affiche, bearing the blindstamp of the program (Lugt 1777c) in the sheet lower right. Published by Jules Chéret; printed at Impremiere Chaix (Atelier Chéret), Paris.

Catalog: Masters of the Poster pl. 104.

By 1898, The Poster magazine was calling Privat Livemont “the uncontested master of Belgian posterists.” He had dazzled the poster world with delicately drawn designs which, while conceived somewhat differently from Mucha’s, created the same final effect of celebrating feminine pulchritude in the service of commercial enterprise. Livemont could not have been a Mucha disciple for the simple reason that he started out earlier, but he had the same penchant for the idealized female, the same meticulous draftsmanship, and the same mastery of the principles of decorative style.
Livemont came to posters by accident, via interior design. After studying it and embarking on it as a career first in his home town of Schaerbeek in Belgium, and then in Paris, where he worked on décor for the Comédie Française, among others, he returned home and there, on a whim, entered a contest for a poster for the local art appreciation society. To his own surprise, he won: this got him interested in lithography, and before long, he had his own studio in Brussels. Eventually, he abandoned the field to devote himself to painting in oils; but for the few years that he stayed with posters, he produced a number of designs of pristine beauty, nearly always exalting lovely young ladies.
More green, shading from chartreuse to olive, can be seen in the “Absinthe Robette” poster: absinthe, after all, was known as The Green Fairy. It was a potent hallucinogen, which Livemont hints at by having the girl hold the drink in an attitude of mystic awe, as well as by the use of a strangely convoluted pattern in the background. This poster is a classic of inspired product promotion.

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