Winning a competition with this design for a poster was Pierre Bonnard's first success as an artist — it is an advertisement for the champagne made by E. Debray near Reims. Bonnard made the lithograph in 1889 — the resulting posters were pasted up around Paris towards the end of March 1891. There is a painting in the exhibition that shows long hoardings lining the Paris streets, covered with posters — Palisade Covered with Posters, and the Old Windmills of Montmartre in the Snow 1900.
Bonnard’s poster received critical acclaim and led to his work appearing in the art and literary journal La Revue blanche — his cover for La Revue blanche of 1894 is included in the exhibition. France-Champagne also inspired Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to begin to design posters of his own.
In the composition almost everything is curved, especially the woman and the undulating line of Bonnard’s hand-drawn lettering of the name, France-Champagne. The woman’s right arm, shoulders, hands and fan frame the focal point, the frothing glass of champagne. A delicate, continuous, scalloped line defines the bubbles, echoing on a smaller scale the line around the woman’s hair and dress. Her tilted head suggests a festive, relaxed and uninhibited mood. Leaning forward, she appears to be almost toppling out of the poster!
The influence of Japanese woodblock prints is evident in the simplified use of colours and the absence of tonal shading, and in the black line defining the shapes.