The Parisian ballet/pantomime Scaramouche had a story written by Maurice Lefèvre and Henri Vuagneux together with music composed by André Messager (1853-1929). For the show’s opening on October 17, 1891 at the Nouveau-Théâtre 15, rue Blanche, the celebrated artist Jules Chéret (1836-1932) was commissioned to design a poster.
Within the same year, publisher Paul Ollendorff simplified Chéret’s design and used it as a frontispiece for the publication of the libretto. There was a vogue for the artist’s brightly colored designs and Ollendorff knew the image would sell the book.
“The man who places something good where before was nothing but bad, something beautiful where before was ugliness, is a veritable missionary. Jules Chéret went out into the desert and produced an oasis—beauty where none was expected. Reds, yellows and blues are not tractable; yet they are a part of the language of the advertiser. He sounds a trumpet in prismatic colors; he announces a bargain sale, a cure-all, a new book, a play, a singer.”
—Louis H. Gibson, “Jules Chéret,” Modern Art 1, no. 1 (Winter 1893).
See pp. 68-72 in Julies Chéret (1836-1932), La Belle Époque de Jules Chéret: de l’affiche au décor / sous la direction de Réjane Bargiel et Ségolène Le Men (Paris: Les Arts décoratifs/BNF, 2010). Marquand SA ND553.C582 B374 2010q