Art and Scent: Perfume-Themed “Magasin de Nouveautés” Trade Card


I came across this delightful piece of printed ephemera on the New York Public Library website. It was produced by the French lithography firm of Lithographie F. Appel and it probably dates to the 1880s. It’s a trade card from a series promoting the shops and businesses of the city of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris. In this image, a perfume bottle is transforming into a woman, or vice versa—we’ve all been there, haven’t we?—while surrounded by other toiletries, a powder puff, and an artist’s palette. It’s a nonsensical image, like some kind of “Alice Through the Belle Epoque Looking-Glass,” and I love it.

Image: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. c1876-1890. Scrapbooks of colored advertising cards in English and French: volume 3.

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