Series Spotlight - Louis Rhead
Louis Rhead was the son of English potters and ceramic painters and, after showing considerable talent, was sent to Paris to study art. He left England at the age of 24 to become the art director of an American publishing house as European poster art began to spread and become a frenzy in the 1890s. With the recent invention of the lithograph and colour printing, poster art became the technique of choice for advertising and illustrations of books and magazines across the USA, inspiring poster clubs and costume poster parties.
Posters, like the ones in this collection, almost always featured glamorous and modern women, stylised but flat and two-dimensional and often featuring flora or other vegetation. The interests and themes of the era are also overt in Rhead’s posters, such as the feature of peacock feathers, or the English Pre-Raphaelite movement’s interest in abundant detail and intense saturation of colour and particularly the influence of Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e prints. During his career Rhead created nearly 100 posters, which were frequently published in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and The Century Magazine, as well as winning the ‘Best American Poster Design’ award at an international competition.