Bergere Grillon #representationmatters

December 13, 2016 § Leave a comment


Bergere Grillon
By Georges Favre
Printed circa 1930 by Gaillard
Original Stone Lithograph
Very Fine Condition

Translation:“Aces of polish recommend the maintenance products of Berger Griffon”

Two Jazz-Age African figures carry what looks like very heavy cargo, stacks of stove black* in tins, and they smile as they labor. Both wear blue coveralls and slippers. The child in front wears an actual stove pipe as a hat which is a reference to the product.  The middle figure, perhaps the mother, wears a shiny stove-pipe hat** and large hoop earrings. Fingertips are visible grasping the stack of heavy tins in this clever design yet the figures bearing the weight of toxic cleaning products smile.


This poster was created in the late twenties, a  prosperous period of Jazz and Art-Deco.  American performer  Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was an iconic  ‘it girl’ in this period. She was often depicted with the same big red lips and big hoop earrings of the figures in the Bergere Grillon poster. Baker performed as an ‘exotic’ singer and dancer in the US, on cruise ships, and in Europe and is often depicted topless and in a banana skirt. Baker expatriated to France in 1937. Baker was a courageous woman who was objectified as a sexy, exotic performer partially because of her race. She chose to live in France because she was accepted there, more so than in the US.  Baker lived with famous posterist Paul Colin, and he portrayed her in many posters including  “Black Birds” and “Tabarin”. 

Our show #representationmatters makes the point that nothing hides from ephemera. Cultural attitudes, norms and stereotypes are recorded in graphic form in advertising posters, and we have a collection of original material to explore here in our showroom.

*Stove black was a common household product when houses were heated by fire places and wood stoves. These polishes kept metal looking clean and new.

**Stove pipe hats were extra long top hats.

This post was written by Elizabeth Norris, VEPCA collector
#representationmatters is the current show in the VEPCA showroom
The show runs from October 1, 2016-March 15, 2017

Vintage European Posters, Established 1997
Member, IVPDA
Our Showroom: 2201 Fourth Street, Corner of Allston Way Berkeley
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