FERNET-BRANCA AND THE GLORIOUS RANGE OF GRAPHIC DESIGN
Fernet-Branca (c.1895) ?Leopoldo Metlicovitz ; 73″ x 48″
This stunning and very unusual litho promoting (at the end of the nineteenth century) the Italian bitters which compose the product, Fernet-Branca, can carry us into an array of exciting considerations.
Those of you who are somewhat familiar with the backlog of vintage posters imagery will be struck by the intensified detailing here. Unlike the vast majority of the graphic art in that repository of arresting designs, here the inspiration is clearly Italian Renaissance painting. Most early Italian exponents of graphics on the cusp of avant-garde enticements were, in fact, graduates of art schools where the Renaissance remained defiantly paramount. But in this work that priority went so far as to give precedence to the physical, carnal factor; and, in so doing, it found its way to the strong suit of the product, namely, its being a curative for problems of digestion.
The Roman goddess of health, Salus, wants us all to recognize that divine advantages of energy are an outcome of smart shopping.Salus was known as the personification of security and well-being (welfare, health and prosperity) of both the individual and the state. She is considered by some, the Greek goddess Hygieia (Hygiene).
Here, a more straightforwardly modernist wit being applied to a happy belly.
The bitter, black licorice flavor of Fernet-Branca has survived, and then some! Nowadays, it’s at the center of Manhattan and San Francisco cocktail scenes. Promotions, such as this retro-bus circulating around the top bars of Gotham and opening eyes and taste buds to the fun of this once quite sombre medication, have instilled into the medical liquid a different kind of flow—but all in the spirit of good health (emotional health leading the way!).
Here’s a very now approach to health and happiness! Can it coexist with the strategy of our featured vintage poster?
Though the Fernet-Branca/Salus is unsigned, the Renaissance-inspired approach (now being cherished by a lovely family in Alberta) could well be an early inspiration by the great inaugural Italian posterist, Leopoldo Metlicovitz (1868-1944). The Marsala poster above is one clearly attributed to him, also for the cause of health through pleasurable beverages.
LONG LIVE FERNET-BRANCA!