In the 19th century, two events gave birth to the modern era of poster production. One was the beginning of industrialization on a large scale, which created a need for extensive advertising. The other was the invention, in 1798, of a new printing method, lithography, that made it much easier for artists to include colored illustrations on posters.
The French artist Honore Daumier is particularly known for his many lithographs that gently satirize the social foibles of his day. Most of these early posters were literal, straightforward, and relatively unimaginative.
Not until the work of Jules Cheret, beginning in 1867, did the art of the poster begin to realize its full potential. Whereas in earlier posters the illustrations were subordinate to the text, Cheret used the illustrations as the dominant features and reduced the text to a relatively minor explanatory role.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec made significant changes in both the content and the artistic style of posters. He abandoned the lyrical impressionism of earlier styles, using instead large areas of flat color in his posters. The idealized female figures of earlier works were replaced with naturalistic, almost caricatured people depicted in telling vignettes.