This jolly fellow, all smiles and fun, wants to share some vodka with you and be your best friend. You can see this in his wonderfully warm eyes and merry smile. His bushy, almost clownish beard and hair and his over-sized furry Russian-style hat dwarf his face and make him look appealingly elfin. Whatever his nationality, you know that you would enjoy sitting down with him over a bottle of Relsky vodka and hearing his stories, confident that the bottle the two of you share would make these stories all the more interesting.
This is the narrative that the very talented, renowned artist Leonetto Cappiello is telling in this poster advertising Relsky vodka from France. But it’s not just this memorable character that stands out in this poster and makes it so fascinating. It’s Cappiello’s dramatic use of color -- with the bright oranges, yellows and reds jumping out in sharp contrast to the dark blue and black background—that arrests the eye and makes you stop and think…about Relsky vodka of course. Viewers have been doing this for over 100 years, so you’ll be no exception if you fall in love with this poster.
Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942) was born in Livorno, Italy. With no formal training in art, he started his career as a caricaturist, illustrating in journals. After moving to Paris as a young man, he published several books of caricatures before he began designing advertising posters. Early advertising posters were characterized by a traditional painterly quality. In a striking departure from this tradition, Cappiello instead used bold, brightly colored figures and designs that pop out of dark backgrounds.
During the period between WWI and WWII Cappiello worked principally in Paris and produced more than 500 advertising posters. These distinctive posters continue to be admired today and valued by collectors and art historians alike. He is often referred to as "the father of modern advertising" because of his innovative poster designs and use of color, as illustrated perfectly in this advertisement for Relsky vodka.
There are two sizes of this vintage poster. This is the larger size.