The evolution of poster art has always been closely linked to advances in printmaking, notably lithography. The lithographic process was first invented by Alois Senefelder in Germany around 1780. It was not until Jules Cheret of France invented his three stone lithographic process in the 1860s, that allowed lithographers to produce a wide spectrum of colors from just three stones, which finally made it possible for low-cost color posters to come on the scene.
Posters soon transformed the streets of Paris into art galleries advertising theatre performances. Poster artists at the time were in great demand and theatre stars would personally select their own favorite artist to do the poster for an upcoming performance. By the end of the 19th century, the standing of the poster had turned into that of a serious art-form.
By the 1890s, poster art had become common and had spread to other parts of Europe, advertising everything from bicycles to soap. Bicycle and tire manufacturers used poster art to advertise and sell their products and were soon followed by the automobile manufacturers and its suppliers as seen here. At the top is one of the more famous early automotive posters featuring the “Bosch Red Devil”.
You can learn much more about the evolution of the poster through time in an excellent history of the poster, at the International Poster Gallery. You can also learn more about the Bosch magneto here. Poster art courtesy of Isabelle Bracquemond, of the French Indian Motorcycle Club.