Leonetto CAPPIELLO, Becuwe Enlarge 1 /1


Italy 1875 – France 1942

Becuwe 1927 Materials & Technique: prints, posters, planographic colour commercial lithograph Support: thin cream paper backed on canvas

Primary Insc: address on the stone and printed in black outside image l.l. (vertically) 'LES NOUVELLES AFFICHES CAPPIELLO/32, Rue Beaujon, Paris/Devambez Gravr. Socte. Anme' product advertisement for electric iron on stone and printed in crimson at bottom in image 'BECUWE' pencil on canvas backing l.r.c. '$1450'
Dimensions: comp 116.8 h x 79.7 w cm sheet 118.9 h x 79.7 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1990
Accession No: NGA 90.1779
Cutting-edge technology is not just a characteristic of our age

During his 40-year career Leonetto Cappiello created over 1000 poster designs. His work was so influential that he became known as the ‘father’ of modern advertising. His revolutionary insight into the art, an insight that remains a staple of modern advertising today, was based on the phenomenon of image association. He was the first to deliberately unite a product with an instantly recognisable icon or image. Thus, when a viewer saw the icon they remembered the product.

Cappiello was also the first poster artist to realise that modern transport had fundamentally changed the way people perceived the visual world and that something seen fleetingly while in transit could be used in this associative way. Having registered an image close up – as a pedestrian might – the advertising message and product could be instantly re-invoked by the mere glimpse of the image from a moving bus or train, hence their bright and easily recognisable forms and colours.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra