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Poster, Performing Arts, Pierrot, Burckardt, France, c. 1880s


F.C. Wentzel – C. Burckardt Nachfolger, Wissembourg, France: c. 1880
Chromolithograph poster in 3 sheets joined
Inscription: CBN W., lower right
67 x 28 inches, as framed

Extremely large (“door sized”) poster showing a grinning French clown character — most likely Pierrot of the Commedia dell’Arte — wearing the traditional costume of loose smock, ruffled collar and conical hat. He holds a bottle of Bordeaux and a wine glass spilling its contents and also holds a paddle or club under his arm. He is surrounded by an assortment of live animals: a parrot is perched on the wine bottle, a bat and a lizard are flying in the air, and a toad and a barking dog are on the ground. Around the animals are numerous figures of the number eleven preceded by a section symbol: “§11.”

Product description continues below.


The poster is imprinted in the lower right “CBN W” thereby crediting the publishing house C. Burckardt Nachfolger of Wissembourg,which was the successor company to the Wentzel family of publishers, also of Wissembourg. Among the works published by the firm were a series of posters in the tall, narrow format of the offered poster of Pierrot. Each is of an individual colorful and whimsical character — most likely based on local theatrical performances. Another poster in this series — a witch — also features various mystical animals including an owl, snake, crab, turtle and snail with the main subject portrayed in a similar manner to Pierrot. Other extant prints in this format by Burkhardt include various jesters, clowns and kings; Mephistopheles; a fiddler, a trombonist and a minstrel banjo musician; and an elderly man dressed as a fop. The artistic design of the posters has often been credited to the Wentzel family publishing firm, the predecessor of the Burckhardt firm.

The publisher C. Burckardt Nachfolger (“Nachfolger” means “Successor”) had its origins in the publishing work of Jean Frédéric Wentzel (1807-1869). At an early age, Wentzel was intrigued with the newly developed printing technique of lithography, and in 1831 founded his first printing workshop at the Faubourg de Landau in Wissembourg, a town located in the department of Bas-Rhin of the French region of Alsace. He became renowned for his varied production of  prints, picture books, papercraft models for children, and puppets. His prints and posters included town views, genre subjects, and theatrical characters. When Jean Frédéric Wentzel died in 1869, the company had eighteen lithographic presses (one of which was steam-powered), three typographic presses, two fabric printing presses, and five engraving presses. It employed numerous typesetters, designers, lithographers, and print colorists. His business first passed to his two sons. Three years after the death of one of the sons, Frédéric-Charles, in 1877, his widow joined an authorized representative of the firm, Georg Friedrich Camille Burckardt, continuing in 1880 under the name “F.C. Wentzel – C. Burckardt Nachfolger.” Burckardt died in 1888 and successors continued the firm until the early 20th century.

The rise of poster art coincides with the advent of three-stone chromolithography in the 1860s. Invented by French printer Jules Cheret, this process enabled a wide range of colors to be produced relatively inexpensively from overprinting three colors of ink. Cheret also influenced poster art by incorporating broad areas of rich, flat color inspired by Japanese prints. Although poster advertising arose in Paris, it soon spread to other cities and countries, where distinctive regional styles arose. Poster art also evolved with the times, influenced by a succession of artistic movements: Art Nouveau, Art Deco, De Stijl, Futurism, Bauhaus and Constructivism. With the rise of photography and broadcast media after World War II, the illustrated poster gradually had a reduced role in advertising art, though still prominent in mass transit venues, movies houses, theaters, and for promoting political action movements. It persists as an art form in the 21st century though further again reduced by the advent of advertising by the internet. Nonetheless, digital technology has enabled individual artists to create posters for printing or download and has sparked the production of a massive number of reproductions of earlier works.

Condition: A-/B+. Generally fine with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling. Issued as 3 sheets, joined as issued with slight offset to image registration between the joins, now flattened as linen backed. Presented in simple light wood frame.


“History of Poster Art (c. 1860-1980).” Encyclopedia of Art. (26 April 2016).

“Jean Frédéric Wentzel.” Wikipedia. 31 January 2020. (29 September 2020).

Additional information


19th Century