The undersung French artist Paul Berthon (1872-1910) studied under two of the great Parisian Art Nouveau artists of the time, Luc-Oliver Merson and Eugène Grasset. Grasset in particular, became something of a mentor to him. Berthon’s studies of the decorative arts had an influence on his printmaking as did the strong lines of Grasset’s work. The huge difference with Berthon’s lithographs is that the vast majority of them were made as pure art and were free of the advertising that dominated the work of so many of his contemporaries. They stand on their own.
Very little is known about Berthon’s short 37 year life. A huge amount of his work was destroyed during the two world wars. By the start of WW1, Art Nouveau had lost its momentum. The posters of Berthon, Grasset and Mucha were no longer prized possessions, and many of the posters were lost or simply thrown away. During the economic depression that followed World War II many of the lithographic posters were used as wallpaper or wrapping paper.