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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

French World War I Posters

A guide to the collection of French, World War I posters that were digitized from the University of Illinois Archives.

French World War I Posters banner

Jules Abel Faivre

A pupil and friend of Renoir, who helped him in giving lessons to Julie Manet and Jeanne Baudot, and who accompanied him on his trip to Holland. He later became well-known as a contributor to magazines such as Le Rire and L'Assiette au beurre.

In the poster "For France..." the French coq, coming to life from a gold Louis, fights against the German soldier. This was one of the first illustrated war posters commissioned by a private society- “The Friends of the Artists”- after the failure of the textual posters by the ministry of finance.

Faivre’s Liberation loan . In a poster initially designed for a war loan drive in 1915, the Kaiser sinks to his knees under the weight of the allied flags. It was used again with the addition of the Stars and Stripes for the fourth war loan in 1918.

Pour out your gold!On les auraLiberation Loan

Lucien Jonas

Lucien Jonas was one of the more prolific Great War illustrators. A gifted and talented artist, he was mobilized in December of 1914 and in February of 1915 was offically accredited as military painter secunded to the Musée de l'Armée' in Paris. During the war he travelled extensively along all sections of the front lines and produced thousands of drawings, oil paintings, charcoals, sketches and illustrations of all kinds. His work was reproduced in the media of course and published in a multitude of magazines and books worldwide.

From the start of the war the work of Lucien Jonas was quite somber, full of suffering and religious symbolism combined with a fierce patriotism and love of France. Jonas was a master of military illustration, an effective propagandist and talented portrayor of war-time national myths and pathos.

Day of the African ArmyStand up! Our dead for the homelandSubscribe for victory

Theophile A. Steinlen (1859-1923)

A major artist of the French Art Nouveau era, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen came to Paris from his native Switzerland at the age of twenty. Mainly self-taught, he quickly established himself as a leading illustrator of popular journals. He also contributed a large amount of drawings and lithographs to the radical press publications. In order to avoid political repercussions for some of his art dealing with strong social content he often employed pseudonyms such as, 'Treelan' and 'Pierre'.

In the 1890's Steinlen's use of line and design led to some of the most famous posters of the Art Nouveau movement. These include, Tournee du Chat Noir (1896), La Rue (1896) and Lait pur Sterilise (1894). The majority of his great art continued to explore the hardships of the poor and humble. Known as "the Millet of the Streets", Steinlen's influence was vast. Among other artists both Toulouse-Lautrec and the young Picasso paid direct homage to his art.

Day of the French soldierSerbia Day

Adolphe Willette (1857-1926)

Adolphe Leon Willette was one of France's most remarkable artists of the legendary Art Nouveau era, studying art under Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He first exhibited his art at the Paris Salon in 1881 and became a regular contributor to major French exhibitions from 1887 onwards. During the 1890's, Willette achieved great fame as a versatile lithographer, painter, illustrator, poster artist and caricaturist. He also emerged as a major writer and editor in the Leftist press. In 1906, Willette achieved the highest honour for a French artist when he was appointed Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur.

As an original lithographic artist, Willette was a master of both social satire and character study. He was commissioned by the prestigious L'Estampe Originale to submit lithographs in 1893, 1894 and 1895, along with such other artists as Whistler, Renoir, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pissarro. During the Art Nouveau decade (1890-1900) Willette was one of the most frequently sought after artists by Paris publishers for his lithographic posters.

Day of the HeraldDay of the French Soldier

Fransesque Poulbot (1879-1946)

Fransesque Poulbot's Great War cartoons of French children are still greatly admired and well-known. Pulbot, starting as an illustrator before the war, managed to create a series of archetypal 'street urchins' characters in his cartoons and drawings. He took as his example, the typical street children of Montmatre in Paris and used them to populate his cartoons and drawings. When war broke out, his 'street urchins' went to war in their own manner, playing at street battles in vacant lots and school yards, uttering their own complaints about rationing and shortages, vowing revenge against the German invaders.

Puy de dome dayFor victory and return home!