History of Carthusia- Profumi di Capri

November 10, 2016 § Leave a comment



This magical poster has been a favorite our staff and clients for many years. Vintage European Posters collector Elizabeth Norris was lucky enough to find a roll of these orignal advertising posters in the South of France, and has had them lovingly cleaned and mounted to archival standard on to acid free paper and linen backing. There is a romance to the Isal of Capri, and as a result, people fall in love with the place. The poster is explanatory of the perfume and includes illustrations of flowers and fruiting moss suggesting that the scent has floral and woodsy notes.

While browsing in a boutique in Toluca Lake I saw a sign with the Carthusia symbol. I was surprised and asked the owner of the store. It turns out that the perfume is still in production today. She was generous enough to give me a few samples which do evoke the mysteries of the island. I wanted to know more, my search led me to a great tale about how this perfume came to be.


The myth recounts that in 1380, the Prior of the Carthusian Monastery was caught unawares by the arrival of Queen Joanna of Naples. He picked her a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers from the island. These remained in unchanged water for three days,  when he went to throw them away, the prior noticed that it had acquired a mysterious fragrance unknown to him. He inquired of the friar versed in alchemy, who traced the origin of the scent to the “Garofilium Silvestre Caprese”. That water became the first perfume of Capri.

History relates that in 1948 the Prior of the Monastery found the old perfume formulas and upon obtaining permission from the Pope, revealed them to a chemist from Piemonte, who created the smallest perfume laboratory in the world, calling it Carthusia after the island’s Monastic order.

The symbol of the Carthusia portrays a flower siren that brings to mind the surreal and mythological landscapes of Capri’s heritage. She appears to be in the midst of an evolution, blooming with myriad colorful flowers, from which Carthusia perfumes flow.

The poster was designed in 1948 by the painter and illustrator Mario Laboccetta. Laboccetta was born in Naples in 1899, but his career blossomed in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He gained some fame with his detailed, colorful and sometimes erotic  magazine and book illustrations. He published work for Charles Baudelaire’s book of poetry Les Fleurs du Mal, and the book Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Tales of Hoffmann).  Laboccetta returned to his native Italy after World War II where he continued work, eventually settling in Capri, where he died in 1988.


To see more of Labocetta’s illustrations or visit the perfume’s website, check out the links below:



This post was written by Logan Prather, LA Liaison for VEPCA
Edited by Elizabeth Norris, VEPCA Collector

Vintage European Posters was Established 1997
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Our Shop: 2201 Fourth Street, Berkeley Corner of Allston Way
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Open Every Weekend until Christmas

Also available by appointment

Please call 510 843 2201 or email vintage posters@vepca.com to confirm hours.

Visit our collection on the web at vepca.com

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