It was in the late 1800s that advertising took a turn toward the colorful. Illustrated color posters, often by the most talented artists, made their debut on the boulevards of Europe and America.
A price explosion in the late 1980s resulted in Lautrec's best-known "Moulin Rouge" poster selling at auction for $200,000. Many of his lesser posters are $25,000. Among popular artists from that celebrated period of color lithography are Jules Cheret and Alphonse Mucha.
"The recession had a negative effect on high-end posters, in the same way that the prices of high-end art were driven down," said Tony Fusco, author of the Official Identification and Price Guide to Posters (House of Collectibles, 1990: $12.95). "Yet the middle-range posters, in a range from $2,000 to $10,000, are the ones that really sell, and their prices have pretty much held steady."