history of travel poster


Largely due to the development of the transport system in the 19th century, a huge growth in the tourist industry occurred in the Alps and in all European touristic regions. From 1890, railway companies, tourist locations and several hotels began printing the first genuine travel posters, featuring cog-railways or idyllic scenery, depicted in a romantic style. These lithographs are harmonious compositions bringing together scenic views of the region. They include illustrations of characters from folklore and a time-table or geographical map, usually linked together with golden frames and floral patterns.

Chemin de fer du Nord, Saison d'été.

1890 circa – JAPHET


Swiss Travel Posters

In 1908, inspired by the visually powerful work of Ferdinand Hodler, the painter Emil Cardinaux designed an avant-garde poster for Zermatt. Drawn in a style, rather daring for its time, it is a monument to the beauty of the Matterhorn (Cervin), blazing with color and overhanging a valley cast in shadow.

The image is reduced to its most essential form of expression and no excess detail is allowed to interfere with the aesthetic value of the subtle play of color, enhanced by the lithographic printing process. Cardinaux's revolutionary poster freed the tourist poster from any realistic constraints and created a more dynamic graphic language. This poster would later influence numerous Swiss artists for decades.

Swiss travel poster >

Zermatt, Matterhorn 4505m Schweiz.

1908 – Emil CARDINAUX

CHF 25000.–

Art Deco travel

During the nineteen twenties and thirties, the specialized curved line used by the Romantic and Art Nouveau movements was replaced by a new form of graphic design, essentially based on the use of the straight line. Originating from the formal accomplishments of Cubism and Futurism (geometric forms, dynamism, structure and contrasting colors), graphic artists created posters of rare intellectual purity using vivid colors and highly stylized forms. This is the Art Deco period.

The best known travel poster artist is the Frenchman, Roger Broders with his gorgeous travel posters in his ‘Art Deco Chic’ style. All over Europe many other designers also produced beautiful Art deco scenery.
The Cubist style of the period can be seen in many posters advertising air travel or transatlantic trips, such as the poster for the ship “Normandie” in 1935 by A.M Cassandre.

Zermatt Gornergrat, Suisse

1928 – Eric De COULON


Art Deco Chic

Artist like Roger Broders, George Barbier or René Vincent came up with the style Art Deco Chic: magnificently slender women from high society wearing Chapeaux cloches (bell-hats) accompanied by greyhounds proposing luxury cars or skiing and golfing holidays.

Mont-Blanc, Sports d'hiver, Au Col de la Voza par St-Gervais, chemin de fer du Mont-Blanc, PLM

1929 circa – Roger BRODERS



Before the war the posters of Exhibitions, evoke sadness as being created in black white and being produced by less means. After the war, Paris became an important center of artistic creation and the rise of the Ecole de Paris led the painters to create posters.

Among others, Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler drew three or four posters, Henri Matisse created tourist posters such as Nice, Travail et Joie (1947) and Pablo Picasso created a beautiful tourist poster for the Côte d'Azur In 1962.
The "Pop Art" artist Roy Lichtenstein drew cultural posters such as Aspen Jazz Festival (1967) or Minnesota Theater Company, Merton of the movies (1968), similarly, Keith Haring, who created Frankfurt, Theater der Welt (1985) with shapes surrounded by black with brightly colored on which the characteristic figures of the artist "Street Art" can be recognized.

Côte d'Azur

1961 – Pablo PICASSO (after)

CHF 990.–


Transportation companies changed their strategy and called on well-known painters to create posters. This is the case of Air France, which relied on French artists in order to create aviation posters that promoted travel destinations: "the poster is considered a work of art, as an element of the history of art. Air France gives the opportunity to perceive (its posters) as something other than simple advertising objects or calls for the consumption, affirming that they must be regarded as creations".

Victor Vasarely drew the poster Air France South America (1946), a masterpiece of kinetic art that provides the viewer the optical illusion of a Lockheed Constellation flying over the calm water, of which we perceive only the lapping, caressed by the grazing light of the sunset.

Air France, Amérique du Sud

1946 – Victor VASARELY


Guy Georget drew several posters with geometrically stylized landscapes in bright colors, as in Air France, Greece (1963).
Georges Mathieu also created a series of posters in a very expressive, almost abstract manner via his Air France Great Britain (1968) poster on which one recognizes the traditional hat of Horse Guard.

According to the artist, this poster shows "the folklore in all its evidence, the embroideries, and the coat of arms". We could characterize his masterpiece as « gestural painting » through the process of Action Painting, Mathieu has captured the essence of the cultural traits of each country. Roger Bezombes drew a series of 16 posters for the Concorde, Air France by plane, Vie du monde (1981) including a large envelope with a 17th poster that presents the complete series. These posters illustrate the themes of: Gastronomy, Islands, Exoticism or Freedom. Bezombes mixed painting and collage for the production of this poetic, allegorical series, which flirts with surrealism and systematically resumes in the background the colors of the French company.

Air France, Grèce

1959 – Guy GEORGET


Jacques Garamond, known as Nathan, creates the Air France Japan poster (1963) illustrating Mount Fuji, through the window of a typically Japanese interior, at the foreground a thin lantern of paper rendered by a subtle gradation of colors. Between 1956 and 1964 he created stylized drawings in colors a bit "flashy" but with a great visual efficiency.

Visitez les Alpes avec les trains et les autocars de la Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français

1958 – Jacques NATHAN-GARAMOND


Aviation is not the only means of transport that relied on the effectiveness of posters; the railways also order posters from artists. For instance, Salvador Dali created a series of 6 posters for the French Railway Company, including Roussillon SNCF (1969), illustrating also the silhouettes of the Angelus of Millet, or Normandie SNCF (1969). The latter, portrays the legendary places of Normandy, such as the beaches of the English Channel or Mont Saint Michel, juxtaposed with the surrealist symbols, recurring in the work of the Catalan painter such as soft faces, supported by crutches or even The butterflies: "everywhere they are only spots that squirt, explode, crackle and all this inkwell fireworks to end on a gigantic signature of the master just as proud as his mustache is tapered."Guy Georget created an illustrated and photographic poster in a very "seventies" composition that promotes a bus company in Europabus, a pleasure to discover Europe (1972). SNCF, batch-kilometer bonds (1975) or Young people under 21, travel through Europe with Interrail (1974) are two illustrated posters that use Guy Georget's codes, multicolored colors as well as Cubist geometric shapes.


1969 – Salvador DALI

CHF 390.–


The end of the Second World War marks a decisive turning point in the poster's history. Indeed, a wind of hope was blowing at Europe being in the midst of reconstruction and themes such as leisure, health and relaxation appear in the posters from 1945 onwards. The message disseminated by the posters addresses the mere promotion of a landscape or a service; it seeks, hence, to convey emotional values.

For example, popular holidays become a favorite subject of French artists, Bernard Villemot with his poster Vichy Mai-Octobre (1953), Paul Colin or Vincent Guerra promote holiday destinations and spas, through stylized posters And colored.
Humor and the world of childhood and recklessness are also involved in the poster of the 1950s, in the work of Raymond Savignac with his poster Eutectic (1958) or Hervé Morvan. The spirit of the fifties is light, it captures the newness, so the sun, sport, and wellbeing become the favorite themes of European posters.

Vichy, Mai-Octobre

1953 – Bernard VILLEMOT

CHF 1145.–

Photographic Travel Posters

Engelberg - Trübsee

1936 circa – Herbert MATTER


Travel in the fifties

If formerly, posters advertised the material and functional aspects of tourism (better transport, etc.), the year 1945 saw the appeal of more leisurely pursuits, concentrating on the benefits of Sport, health and relaxation. In post-war years such themes answered the need for a changed outlook on life.

Lithography, which required several weeks work to print a poster design, was superseded during the 1950s by the much more profitable and speedy process of the offset.
Today, all of those travel posters are in great demand, both as historical and iconographical documents of a certain region, and as original works of art that are ideal for the decoration of an office, chalet or in the home.

» See tourist posters from the 40s and 50s

» See tourist posters from the 60s and 70s

St.Moritz les bains, second edition

1958 – Martin PEIKERT