2008.487.210 Jules-Alexandre Grün
Guide de l’Étranger à Montmartre, 1900, color lithographic poster
Author: Alyssa Bargabus
Guide de l’Étranger à Montmartre is a lithographic poster created by Jules-Alexandre Grün as an advertisement for a travel guide of Montmartre. Victor Meusy, a poet, wrote the travel guide to attract those in Paris attending the world fair. In his guide, Meusy used the Moulin Rouge, marked by its eponymous red windmill, to entice the visitors to travel to Montmartre. Grün’s depiction of Montmartre in his poster shared this same proinent landmark.
The poster portrays a woman dressed in red, at a train station, waving off a train at night. Hints of Montmartre can be seen behind her, but it is mostly hidden by the woman or covered in darkness. The bright red windmill sits at the bottom of the hill. It appears to be illuminated, as it would be during this time of night, attracting people to the cabaret. The representation of the Moulin Rouge through the windmill highlights Grün’s intent of advertising the cabaret to attract visitors to Montmartre.
The woman in the poster is believed to be a courtesan because of the way she is dressed and the inclusion of the Moulin Rouge in the poster. She has pale skin and red hair, created through dots of multiple shades of red and peach. She wears a tight, revealing, red dress that shows off her curves, which Grün accomplishes through the use of simple black strokes on the red dress and her skin. The woman is the most detailed figure in the piece, emphasizing her as the focus of the poster. The woman appears to be leaning back, as if pushed back by wind, giving the illusion of a train passing by without a train appearing in the poster. Grün’s positioning and depiction of the woman in the poster creates a fleeting moment of a courtesan waving off a suitor who is leaving by train. The portrayal of this moment gives men the incentive to go to Montmartre in order to experience this moment and the moments leading up to it. Grün’s poster, coupled with the travel guide’s description of the Moulin Rouge, would entice men to buy the travel guide and visit Montmartre, which was the intent of both the artist and the poet.