The latest post at Strange Flowers details some of the celebrity endorsements for Vin Mariani, the 19th-century tonic that famously blended wine with an extract of cocaine. Those antique ads reminded me that others may be found in the Leonard de Vries collections of old newspaper ads which is where these examples originate. The Victorians invented mass advertising, and were quick to realise the potential of the celebrity endorsement. What’s surprising today is seeing a product like Vin Mariani promoted by Popes and crowned heads alongside writers such as Émile Zola and Octave Mirbeau, neither of whom had glowing reputations among moral guardians of the time.
Carlos Schwabe’s poster from 1892 for the first of Joséphin Péladan’s art and music Salons de la Rose + Croix. The “Sâr” Peladan’s imposition on the artistic life of Paris in the 1890s may have the smack of a vanity project but he caused enough of a stir to give Rosicrucianism an unlikely fashionabilty for a while. The roster of contributing artists is also impressive, almost a who’s who of Symbolist art. There were six salons in all, the last being in 1897. The poster for the fifth salon by Armand Point & Léonard Sarluis shows Perseus holding the decapitated head of Émile Zola. The evangelist of literary realism was one of Symbolism’s arch-enemies but that didn’t prevent Carlos Schwabe from producing illustrations for Le Rêve.
The pages below are from Peladan’s many books, La Queste du Graal: Proses Lyriques de l’Éthopée; La Décadence Latine (1892). The illustrations aren’t the best reproductions, and they aren’t the greatest artworks either, but they give a sense of what Peladan wanted to see embellishing his own brand of artistic mysticism. Gallica has a Salon de la Rose + Croix catalogue (also from 1892) but like many of the documents archived there the quality leaves a lot to be desired.