The Making of the Simpson Chain Poster

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  • Title: The Making of the Simpson Chain Poster: How Photographer Jules Beau Helped Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Author(s): Jan Mulder
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Image
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Image
  • Keywords: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Photography, Jules Beau, Simpson Chain, Constant Huret, Julia Frey, John Berger
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2154-8560 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8579 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v10i04/15-24
  • Citation: Mulder, Jan . 2019. "The Making of the Simpson Chain Poster: How Photographer Jules Beau Helped Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec." The International Journal of the Image 10 (4): 15-24. doi:10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v10i04/15-24.
  • Extent: 10 pages

Abstract

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec created the Simpson Chain poster in 1896 as part of a marketing campaign for the new bicycle chain. The artist struggled during the creation of the work. He had trouble to come up with a representation acceptable to his client—little wonder, as it was his first attempt to catch cyclists in full action and he was under time pressure. The poster has led to numerous interpretations as to what and who is shown. This is not surprising as the sport has changed so much that certain types of bicycles and the associated terminology have sunk into oblivion. We need insights about the state of the art in cycle racing in 1896 to help interpret the image. There is strong evidence that the artist used what was available to be successful: it is likely that he knew the work of Paris photographer Jules Beau and used his pictures to get the details right.