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Biography of Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)

Born and raised in Livorno, Italy, Leonetto Cappiello knew at a young age that he would be an artist. In his youth, Cappiello drew caricatures and sketches, which proved he had a natural talent and an ambition that would eventually lead him to Paris in pursuit of his dream.

Encouraged by his brother, who was living in Paris at the time, Cappiello endeavored to sell his caricatures to magazines that would pay and support his art. He was so ambitious that he even approached Giacomo Puccini, the composer to ask if he could sketch him. He was successful and managed to submit the images to Le Rire magazine. Soon after, Cappiello became a sought after cartoonist and caricaturist.

Cappiello was a master advertiser who took the "Less is more approach." By using bold colors and anonymous characters, Cappiello could sell a product without associating it to any particular actor, class or gender. However, the images he used to sell a product would immediately be recognized by his audience and associated with that particular product. Cappiello's skill in graphic design allowed him to manipulate his audience to believe a subconscious image association.

Cappiello's portraits and posters were playful and unique, a quality that bred his success. His illustrations were clean and simple, crossing the boundaries from Belle Epoque through to Art Noveau to the more modernist approach of Art Deco while still combining styles from previous eras. Because of the simplicity of his graphics, Cappiello was able to produce nearly 1000 posters in his time and was an inspiration to many lithographers to follow. His work is sought after today and may be found in galleries and museums throughout the world.