"Masquerade" by Jules Cheret Cheret made surprisingly sophisticated use of complimentary colors in his early works. The grace and elegance of his pieces was quickly identified, and helped to distinguish him in a city filled with aspiring artists.
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Early Works of Jules Cheret

In 1858 Cheret created his first poster for the composer Jacques Offenbach and when this did not lead to further commissions, he once again returned to London to try his hand a second time. Determined to continue his work as an artist, he designed book covers for the publishing firm of Cramer as well as several posters for the circus, theater, music halls, actresses and cabarets as well as products. Such advertisements were of a new kind, and these innovative and artistic efforts led him to the next phase of his work.

Through a good friend, Cheret was introduced to perfume manufacturer, Eugene Rimmel who gave the artist the opportunity to design for Rimmel‘s establishment. In 1866, in a bold and supportive move, Rimmel supported his protege Cheret in the establishment of a commercial color lithographic shop in Paris. Like Cheret himself, the presses had made the journey from one side of the channel to the other, to finally demonstrate their artistic and productive potential. The large presses were brought from London as they did not exist in Paris. As a result of this fortuitous relationship between Cheret and Rimmel, Cheret’s career was launched. Color lithography had never been done before and would now come to life under the mastery of Cheret in Paris.

First working in one or two colors, in 1869 Cheret introduced a new system of printing from three stones: one black, one red and the third a ‘fond gradué’ (graduated background, achieved by printing two colors from one stone, with cool colors at the top and warm colors at the bottom). This process was the basis of his color lithographic posters throughout the 1870s and early 1880s; he achieved what no other artist had done before.

His work showed delicate, powdery, and graceful fluidity of pastel and hues that contributed to the uniqueness and aesthetic finesse of his creative endeavors. Impressionists and Pointillists were absorbed and impressed with his "theory of complementary colors."

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