Early 20th century circus posters conveyed the energy and absurdity of their grandiose performances. They’re packed with trained animals of all varieties, mustachioed performers and exotic reenactments. These posters showcase a masterclass in graphic design. They display movement, bold text, great contrast and layered perspective.
Some of the most compelling and stunning examples of circus posters came from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth.”
The scale of the First World War is almost incomprehensible. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, the dominoes of allegiance began to fall, and soon the worlds largest nations were forced into involvement. More than 70 million military personnel were globally mobilized. By the end, almost 38 million civilians and soldiers would die.
The pace of global involvement and the mounting number of casualties forced governments to sway public opinion and encourage enlistment. The government propaganda machines began to churn out advertisements. These posters appealed to adventure, patriotism, and honor, and if those failed to sway their target, then shame was the goal.
The poster “Adventure and action, Enlist in the field artillery, U.S. Army” from 1919 shows a line of soldiers on galloping horses at sunset. This, surely to entice those bored young men who sought travel and adventure.
“It’s up to you–Protect the nation’s honor, enlist now” depicts a stern Uncle Sam, and a sleeping young woman draped in American flags. Uncle Sam points directly at the viewer, daring them to turn their back on the country. Similarly, the famous British poster of Lord Kitchener pointing out, challenges the viewer to confront the war.
One of the most interesting examples is the 1915 poster from the Department of Recruiting for Ireland that declares “Can you any longer resist the call?” In the scene, a farmer holding a plow has a vision of St. Patrick gesturing toward the ruins of a cathedral.
Louis Rhead was an acclaimed English-American artist and author. He created works in a variety of mediums, but remains most known for his striking Art Nouveau posters and advertisements.
Rhead emigrated to New York City in 1883 when he was just 24 years old to work as an art director at a US firm. He later capitalized on the poster craze of the 1890s, and the growing popularity of the Art Nouveau style.
Rhead’s excellent command of the figure and composition made him a sought after illustrator in his time. While less known than Alphones Mucha, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Aubrey Beardsley, Rhead deserves a place among the pantheon of his more well-known European contemporaries.
Woodcut prints have a rich and lasting tradition, and the technique has been adopted in countries across the world. But some of the finest and most enduring examples come from Japan. Their masterful use of color and form has been admired for generations.
The following prints date from the middle of the 19th century, and show the Japanese woodcut masters at the height of their prowess.
15 Medical Posters from Global Campaigns Against TB
Tuberculosis infection has been found in human remains as far back as the Neolithic Era. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, TB was the leading cause of death in the United States. Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau promoted and established isolation techniques to fight TB in the 1880s. His efforts established an era of prevention and public education. Since then, many visual campaigns have promoted illustrative posters to fight the diseases spread. All of the posters in this series were downloaded from the History of Medicine (IHM)collections of the History of Medicine Division (HMD) of the U.S National Library of Medicine (NLM). The posters provide an interesting international case-study of the various approaches designers have taken to convey public health information. Vintage Prints on Photistoric.