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Wine in Graphic Arts 1: Drawings and Engravings


AFrom the 15th century, numerous drawings and engravings dealt with every aspect of wine and the vine. From the 19th century, posters were used as a vehicle for publicity and propaganda in many domains, including wine.


>> Graphics: Posters


1. Goltzius illustrates this quotation from the Latin poet Terence (ca. 185-160 BC.): “Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus would freeze”. In other words, without food and wine, love grows cold. In Roman mythology, Ceres is the goddess of agriculture, harvests and fertility.


2. Linked to the Dionysian mysteries, bacchanals were held in honor of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, drunkenness and excess (especially sexual excess). These fetes were originally held among women in secret on the 16th and 17th March. From this point, the celebrations took place at least three times a year, organised and supervised by respectable matrons. The bacchanals became public festivals and were celebrated across Greece and Egypt, but principally in Rome.


The festivals, which lasted between three and five days according to the region, were organised around theatrical performances which served as religious ceremonies. The bacchanals soon became a pretext for extravagant shows of disorder; such celebrations increasingly turned into night-time orgies of public drunkenness and licentiousness. The Romans distrusted this orgiastic cult, which planted disorder and posed a risk to the State. Men would feign religious frenzy as the women, wearing the disguise of the festival, ran towards the Tiber with torches. Among the initiated of the sect were certain high-ranking men and women.  It was decided that the bacchanals would only admit under-20s, considered more docile in the context of the wild initiations.

The courtesan Hispala Fecenia revealed the secret of these practices to a young man whom she loved, Publius Aebutius, in order to protect him from his own mother, who wished to initiate him into the mysteries of Bacchus. Publius refused to be initiated, so was thrown out by his mother and stepfather. He sought refuge with one of his aunts, who advised him to share his story with the consul Postumius; after hearing the young man’s account, the consul decided to carry out a secret enquiry. The Senate was deeply troubled, fearing that the sect was a cover for a plot against the Roman republic. It charged its consuls to speak against the bacchanals’ night-time sacrifices, to reward informers and to prevent the initiated from gathering.

The ‘scandal of the bacchanals’ (186 BC) led to a repression of the cult, with around 7000 of those involved condemned to death. A prophetess from the Campania region was said to have organised with her followers a large-scale fraud, leading to murders and extortion. The cult’s leaders were questioned; many of those attached to the movement were tortured, imprisoned or exiled. A senatus-consult banned bacchanals for almost one and a half centuries. The celebrations were reauthorized by Caesar. 

Find out more: Gallery Bacchanals and Bacchanalian Scenes >>


3. “The grotesque costumes of Larmessin are famous today, thanks to the taste for graphic fantasy revived by modern artists... The principle – and the humour – of these drawings is found in the dressing of different working characters in the accessories of their profession. Some of the drawings move away from this by incorporating contemporary fashions; others are German imitations which bear witness to the popularity of such fantasy images.

Despite the Mannerist roots of his whimsical compositions, Larmessin’s invention is absolutely original to the end of the 17th century, and the success of his images is proven by their reproduction for decorative use of today.” (Le Dessin d’humour du XVIe siècle à nos jours. Exhibition catalogue for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1971).


4. The port of Nantes was considered at the beginning of the 18th century as the first in Europe, frequented each year by some 2,000 ships and boats. It is also the second French port after Bordeaux for the wine trade. It deploys its wine exports to the rest of Brittany (the Breton market absorbs half of the traffic, in strong competition with Bordeaux *), Holland and England. At the same time, and thanks to river transport in both directions, the towns of the Loire maintain intense trade. In the downstream part, Nantes plays a central role. Its "hinterland" extends very far upstream, to Orleans, where the westerly winds carry. Its seaport supplies the Loire basin with salt and products from the colonies (coffee, sugar). Orleans is a relay to Paris, especially for red wines (via the Briare canal and the Loing, a tributary of the Seine), East and Lyonnais. In the opposite direction, Nantes receives from all the Loire basin a lot of wheat and tuffeaux from Anjou, wood, wine (white wines) and many other goods.

5. The Pont de Pierre was Bordeaux’s first and only road bridge from 1822 to 1965. This etching by Garneray dates from 1830. It shows, on the flat top of the Saint-Michel belfry, Chappe’s optical telegraph, installed in 1823. However, Garneray’s 1822-1823 painting of the scene, which is what this aquatint is based on, doesn’t show the telegraph.

The bridge marks the end point of the maritime port where the tall ships gather. The bridge is reserved for the small river vessels (flat-bottomed boats and schooners) which continue up the Garonne. To the right, a bull dragging a barrel on a cart descends the ramp leading to the port of La Bastide.

* Nantes faced great competition in the Breton market from the Aquitaine wine trade. This competition went from the Bordeaux vineyards to the unloading ports, down to sales to individuals and taverns. The Brittany countryside represented the largest share of this market in the kingdom of France throughout the 18th century. The wines of Bordeaux, Bourg, Blaye and Libourne were particularly popular among Breton consumers. Large ports such as Nantes and Lorient were distribution hubs which allowed Aquitaine wines to be sent towards European and overseas markets, while the secondary ports of Redon, Vannes and Quimper were used as a kind of regional warehouse. Small Blaye, Plassac and Breton coasters brought the Bordeaux wines to Breton ports. Other distributors, both on water and on land, ensured that the wines were distributed to places where they would be consumed. (Source: Bordeaux et la Bretagne au XVIIe siècle, Les routes du vin, Hiroyasu Kimizuka, 2015, Presses universitaires de Rennes).

Find out more: Gallery From Cellar to Port >>



6. Abundance, Bacchus and Ceres Entering the Capital (Musée Carnavalet, Paris) celebrates the abolition, on 1st May 1791, of duty payable on goods entering Paris. On the back of the engraving: “Let us celebrate forever this great day, when our wise legislators abolished the entry duties, where the rapacity of farmers-general and their agents was brought down! / The people can rejoice in Nature’s precious treasures; the poor man, like the rich, will procure goods with greater ease now that the terrible fear of the barriers has been […] / the race of wolves has been destroyed, prosperity will rise again from the industrious hands of the farmer and artist.


7. There has been a wine market on the Quai Saint Bernard since 1662 (Port-aux-vins de Paris) to allow access from the Seine. With wine consumption continuing to rise in the capital, in 1808 it was decided that a considerably enlarged and more modern market should be built.

HALLE AUX VINS SUR LE QUAI SAINT-BERNARD, 1815 - Musée Carnavalet, Paris

HALLE AUX VINS SUR LE QUAI SAINT-BERNARD, 1815 - Musée Carnavalet, Paris

But its means of storage proved insufficient and it could not cope with a transport facilitated by the railroad. The government decided in 1869 to build new warehouses on the other side of the Seine at Bercy. In 1905, the parliament passed a law obliging the big wine merchants of Paris to have a storefront at the Bercy warehouses and the Paris wine market. At the end of the Second World War, on August 26, 1944, the Halle aux Vins was devastated by a fire caused by the bombardments of the Luftwaffe.


8. David Hockney is a British artist known for his paintings, drawings and photos. A major contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, he is seen by some as one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Hockney isn't just admired for his paintings; he's also garnered praise for his drawing and engraving talents.


His most famous works include portraits of friends and family, including Peter Langan, Irish founder of Langan's Brasserie in London. A popular haunt for celebrities and artists, Hockney and Langan first met here in the 1970s. Their personal and professional relationship was based on respect, a shared sense of humour and a mutual passion for art. Hockney created artwork for the restaurant, including the menu, and drawings of some of Langan's associates, such as actor Michael Caine and chef Richard Shepherd. Langan was a controversial character, notorious for his alcoholism and outrageous behaviour. He died in 1988 in a fire that he had set himself. Hockney paid tribute to his friend with a series of drawings entitled “Remembering Peter”. Langan's Brasserie is still open today. Hockney's works, still hanging on its walls, testify to the relationship between the artist and the restaurant-owner.



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The Seasons, Autumn: Wine Market, Strasbourgn, France, Wenceslaus Hollar, 1628 - Baltimore Museum of Art /  View of Saumur, 1836 - After having proven itself in mines and industry, steam power was used on boats from 1818, and on the railways a little later. The first steam-powered vessel would sail through Saumur in 1823. In this view, steamboat and barges (one full of barrels) are shown side by side.


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Interior view of Paris depicting the Port Saint-Paul, taken from the Quay des Ormes facing the former Bureau des Coches d'Eau, or River Transport Offices, 1788 - Musée Carnavalet, Paris /  Wine market, quai Saint-Bernard, 1882



The Port of Bordeaux, here seen from the Château Trompette on the Garonne river and from the Quai des Farines (1776), show the port as it would have looked in La Fayette’s time. In the foreground, a barge carries barrels. Small boats aided the transport of goods between the gently-sloping quay and the large ships. A powerful evocation of the port’s activity, this engraving depicts a scene of daily life in 1776 / View of the Port of Bordeaux from Chartrons (chromatic photo engraving, J. Georges, 1903 – Musée National des Douanes, Bordeaux) is quite different. If trade in Bordeaux was heavily affected by the Revolutionary and Imperial wars, plus the loss of Sainto Domingo in 1804, international relations recovered over the first half of the 19th century and the port experienced another period of rapid growth. In order to remain competitive as activity rose, the port equipped itself with vertical quays and cranes. Loading and unloading operations were now direct, and therefore much easier. 

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Georges de Sonneville - Musée des Beaux-arts, Bordeaux : Cargo à quai, 1915 /  La Soif du dockerLe Sommeil du docker

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Les Quais /  La Soif du dockerLes Dockers, 1915 /   Gabarres à quai

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Déchargement des barriques, 1915 / Port de Bordeaux. Gabarre, voilier et cargo à quai /  Port de Bordeaux. Docker à la barrique

ANDREA MANTEGNA, JACOPO FRANCIA - Engraving and drypoint

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Bacchanal with a Wine Vat, 29.9 x 43.7 cm & Bacchanal with Silenus, 30.5 x 43.8 cm, Andrea Mantegna, before 1475 /  Jacopo Francia, NGA, Washington: Bacchus et son entourage, ca. 1506, 25.7 x 30.6 cm 

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Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Indian Triumph of Bacchus, Anonymous, mid-16 th century, possibly copied from engraving attributed to Enea Vico, 27.77 x 39.7 cm /  Triumph of Bacchus who is seated on a carriage at left, Giulio Bonasone, 1531-76, 13.8 x 22 cm /  The Triumph of Bacchus, Jan Popels, after Rubens, 1633-63, 33.2 x 47 cm


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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Christ in the Winepress, Meester van het Martyrium der Tienduizend, 1463/67 /  Christ in the Wine Press, Hieronymus Wierix, 1563/before 1619 /  Christ in the Wine Press, Hieronymus Wierix, 1563/before 1619  /  Christ and fill the soul personified in a winepress a jug of wine Jesus and the Soul in a winepress, Jan Luyken, 1678/87




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1/ "Madrid Album B 67": They are getting drunk (Se emborrachan), ca. 1796-1798, 23.5 x 14.6 cm - The MET, New York. 2/"The Caprices": And His House Catches Fire (Y sele quema la Casa), 1799, 21.6 x 15.2 cm - Museo del Prado, Madrid. 3/ "The Caprices": No one has seen us (Nadie nos ha visto), 1799, 21.2 x 15.0 cm - Museo del Prado, Madrid. 4/ "The Caprices": They are hot (Estan calientes), 1799/20, 21.4 x 15.2 cm - Museo del Prado, Madrid

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5/ Images of Spain F Album: A woman giving a mug to an old man (Mujer ofreciendo un vaso a un anciano), 1812/20, 20.6 x 14.3 cm - The MET, New York. 6/ "Images of Spain" F Album: A man on the ground drinking from a wine skin (Hombre en el suelo bebiendo de una bota), ca. 1812/20, 20.5 x 14.3 cm - The Met, New York. 7/ Black Border E Album": You'll See Later; a man drinking, a woman trying to stop him ("Verá más adelante"; un hombre que bebía, una mujer intenta detenerlo), ca. 1816/20, 26.7 x 18.8 cm /8. "Inquisition Album C" :  Better it were wine (Mejor fuera vino), 1814/23, 20.5 x 14.3 cm - Museo del Prado, Madrid

Until the end of the 1700s, Goya's career had been typical of an artist raised under the yoke of academism, with daring colours his main distinguishing feature. A sequence of events would change this. First of all, Goya found himself distanced from his friends in the elite, who had protected and sheltered him. At the same time, in 1792, Goya fell seriously ill and became deaf. This handicap reawoke a world of pain that Goya's sparkling social life had previously allowed him to escape. Goya launched into a scathing critique of social vices, and of drunkenness in particular (Source : Encyclopédie thématique Universalis, Goya, Marcel Durliat, 2004).



1. Three “debauched” women drink wine to excess, while a fourth figure reaches for a bottle and drunkenly leans towards the central character. Sharing a joke, perhaps, or simply aping intimacy. A man watches them mockingly.

2. Los caprichos (The Caprices) is a series of 80 engravings which satirises the late-eighteenth century Spanish elite, mainly aristocrats and members of the clergy. The prints came out in 1799, but Goya hurriedly blocked their publication because he feared the Inquisition. The images were on sale for 14 days only. In 1803, to save his work, Goya gave the plates and the 240 printed copies to the king, in exchange for accommodation for his son.


This scene shows an old man, bare-chested and near-catatonic with drunkenness, wandering around his home as an oil lamp falls and starts a blaze. With this engraving's scathing title, Goya shows his unforgiving position on the dire consequences of such vices.

3. Here, Goya depicts four monks in a cellar. Three of them display grotesque features, while the fourth, obscured by the darkness, is standing with his back to us. A gloomy, masked figure behind the group proffers a wine glass to one of the monks, encouraging intemperance.

4. Following criticism of his engravings, Goya developed a more general satire around the vices and corruption of the Church. The title of this engraving refers to the gluttony and lust of monks. Food's perceived connection to sensuality adds a lubricious undertone to the characters' greed. Even in this period, heat already had a sexual connotation, referring back to “female animals...burning with passion” (Dictionnaire castillan avec des termes scientifiques et artistiques, Madrid, 1786-93). In the slang of the time, feeling “hot” could also mean drinking too much alcohol.

5. Probably wine considered 'a tonic, a very powerful cordial': as Goya's Self-portrait with Dr. Arrieta, A remedy >

HONORE DAUMIER - Drinkers on the spot

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Two Drinkers, 1860/64 , Private collection /  The Drinkers, ca. 1860, 20.5 x 4.6 cm, Private collection /  The Drinkers, 1860, 24.0 x 26.7 cm, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States

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The Drinking song, 1860, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts /  Two Drinkers, 1860/79, 32 x 24.5 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  /  The Good friends, ca. 1864, 23.6 x 30.4 cm, The Baltimore Museum of Art, United States

Caricatures and social satire

Les Angoisses du viticulteur : Nous venons d’échapper au gel... Nous n’avons plus rien à craindre que le soleil, la pluie, le mildiou et le reste!..., 1857, The National Museum of Wester Art (NMWA), Tokyo, Japon /  Tous ces raisins me font l'effet d'avoir la maladie... Faut bien faire bien attention Adélaïde, on dit que ça s'attrape, 1853  /  Impressions des vendanges : Quoi... vous y entrez pieds nus! bien!... Vous ne devriez pas mettre de chaussures cirées là-dedans!.., 1856, 21.7 x 26.1 cm, NMWA, Tokyo, Japon


Un Marchand de vin contrarié dans son commerce, : Dites donc père Madzinguin... votre bois de campêche n'empêche pas qu'on ne vide vos tonneaux dans le ruisseau... on a bien raison de dire que l'eau retourne toujours à la rivière !, 1844, MET, New York / Société Catholique du baptême organisee pour le salut des buveurs Parisiens, 1843, Musées des Beaux-arts, San Francisco /  De l'utilité de la crinoline pour frauder l'octroi, 1867, Musée Carnavalet, Paris

Un philosophe : L'homme ne doit jamais être seul... et il n'a pas de meilleur compagnon qu'un verre de vin...! Moi je préfère deusse !, 1864, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York /  Au restaurant à 32 sous  : Garçon, un poulet au cresson ? ... M'sieu, il ne nous reste plus de poulet... mais si vous voulez, js vous servir une plus forte, 1849, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) /  Moeurs conjugales : Peu ordinaire, il est ivre !... En v'là un petit pochard il vous avale ça comme du lait.. pauvre chou! ... c'est tout le portrait de son père !En Italie : Le vin est l'ornement de l'homme, et quand il fait chaud, c'est étonnant comme je suis coquet, 1859, National Gallery of Art, Washington   

GEORGE CRUIKSHANK - The terrible effects of alcohol

The Bottle (1847, 22 x 33 cm - British Museum, London) is a series of eight etchings by the British caricaturist inspired by William Hogarth's' Rake's Progress. Elles représentent une famille ruinée par l'alcool. In his earlier life, George Cruikshank had been a very heavy drinker but he could not ignore the effects of alcohol on his own family: his father Isaac and brother Robert both were alcoholics; his father died of alcohol intoxication after winning a drinking contest. Cruikshank turned against alcohol and began preaching against the evil of alcohols.  He became a teetotaler at the time he created The Bottle, though he became one shortly thereafter. The Bottle was very popular, and has been described as possibly the greatest success of Cruikshank's career with the initial printing of 100,000 copies sold out within a few days.

>> Click the firs etching to enlarge the diaporama

The Worship of Bacchus or The Drinking Customs of Society, showing how the Intoxicating Liquors are used upon every occasion in life, from the Cradle to the Grave (1864, etching, 55.7 × 98.4 cm - Tate, London) is a satirical vision of the ill-effects of alcohol abuse. The artist produced this engraving as a copy of his immense painting The Cult of Bacchus (oil on canvas, 1860-62, 236 x 406 cm - Tate, London). He had deemed the original painting ‘a mighty instrument in aid of the Temperance cause He had deemed the original painting ‘a mighty instrument in aid of the Temperance cause ... that will be increased a hundred fold when the completed' (John Stewart).

>> Click to view the full engraving close-up



Women by the Grape Vine, 26.7 x 37 cm, from Twelve Original Lithographs by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1904, published in 1919 by Ambroise Vollard, MoMA, New York


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The Frugal Meal, from The Saltimbanques, 1904, 48 x 38 cm, AIC, Chicago  /  Bottle and Wine Glass on a Table, 1912, 61.9 x 47.3 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  /  Bacchanal with Minotaur, 1933, from the Vollard Suite, 1939, 29,8 x 36,7 cm, MoMA, New York

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Bacchus with a bottle and Marie-Thérèse with a cup, 1934, 28.0 x 20.0 cm, Private coll.  /  Joung Bacchus with Tambourine with a Bacchante, Vollard Suite, 1934, 61.9 x 47.3 cm, Private collection /  Bacchanal, 1955, 33 x 50.5 cm - MNAM, Paris

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Bacchanal: The Triumph of Pan (after Poussin), 1954 , phototype after the Picasso's original drawing (August 1944) , 33.0 x 43.2 cm, private collection, Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France, « © Succession Picasso 2022 »  /  Bearded Man wit a Crown of Vines, 1962, linocut, 34.8 x 27.0 cm, private collection  /  The Harvest Pickers, 1959, linocut, 53.4 x 64.3 cm, private collection


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Félix Vallotton, 1916, estampes - BnF, Paris : L'Orgie ("C'est la guerre". II) / Le Guetteur ("C'est la guerre". V) / Les Civils ("C'est la guerre". VI)

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Ossip Zadkine, Musée Zadkine, Paris : La Popote, 1918, eau-forte / Le Sous-officier, 1918, eau-forte / Conversation, 1918, eau-forte / Le Buveur, 1963, à la plume et encre noire avec correction à l'encre rouge

Herman Josef Sketch of a woman at a tabl
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Vinification, Josef Herman, 1951, lavis à l'encre - Collection particulière / Femme attablée, Josef Herman, croquis - Tate Britain, Londres / Paul Fréour, Au Bar, 1999, pointe sèche - Collection particulière


8. Phylloxera is a minuscule, aphid-like, sap-sucking insect. They feed on vines, which, if infested, die within three years. The insect, which originated in the Eastern USA, sparked a crisis in the European wine industry. While phylloxera hit the headlines in the 1880s, the epidemic began much earlier. Vines in the French Gard region was infested in 1863; Bordeaux, in 1873; Meursault, in Burgundy, in 1878; the Paris region, in 1890; Champagne, in 1895. After 1900, the face of French vineyards changed radically. In 1875, there had been around 2.5 million hectares of vines in France. By 1903, only 1.7 million hectares remained. This is why phylloxera is sometimes dubbed “the Atilla of the vine”.*


The fight against this pest took over thirty years. By using rootstock from American plants naturally resistant to phylloxera, and grafts onto French plants likely to conserve the organoleptic qualities of the original vines. Wine culture was shaken by this incident. Planters abandoned the traditional layering technique, which had allowed for easy replanting of vine shoots (in layering, a shoot from the upper part of the parent plant would give a French vine; one from the lower part would give an American one). Grouped planting alongside fruit trees was replaced by monoculture in rows. Some wine-growing areas disappeared entirely, as in the Ile-de-France region. With so many French vineyards destroyed, wine was in short supply. These conditions encouraged fraud and adulteration of wines. For example, two wines might be made from the same grapes : water and sugar would be added and the wine fermented. This low-quality product is known to the French as la piquette – in English, plonk.

Today, France possesses only 750,000 hectares of vineyards.


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Grape harvesting in France, 31st October 1891 / Harvest festival in Alsace, 1st October 1911 / The anti-hail artillery, 7th July 1901 / A stupid bet by the Gargouille wine boy, Le Petit Marseillais, 2nd October 1898

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The wine-growing crisis: Haro on the water-drinker, 9th June 1907 / A bicentenary: Dom P​érignon discovers the art of making champagne sparkle, 14th June 1914 / The Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western WWI front around Christmas 1914. French, German, & British soldiers fraternized, drank wine and brandy, smoked & played football. 'British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear.' The Illustrated London News, 9th January 1915    Kings in the trench, 10th January 1915 / The wine of victory, 14th September 1919

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Kings in the trench, 10th January 1915 /  The wine of victory, 14th September 1919 /  Ce qu'on appelle le régime sec : "Décidément, il faut croire que la loi de prohibition est étrangement observée aux Etats-Unis. Un habitant de Nowark, dans le New Jersey, possédait un foudre rempli de vin et, sans doute, venait-il y puiser souvent. En tout cas, il glissa, un beau jour, dans la cuve profonde de quatre mètres, et s'y noya.", Le Petit Journal, 2nd December 1923

Posters, designed to be displayed in the street and other public places, are used for advertising and propaganda. The end of the 19th century was the ‘golden age’ of posters, with artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, and posters of the time promoted the joie de vivre brought about by wine. The First World War, far from slowing their production, saw an explosion of propaganda posters.

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