The “spirited” art of Fernet Branca’s calendars
In 1886, Fratelli Branca – founded in Milan over thirty years earlier, by the inventor of one of Italy’s most popular bitter spirits, Bernardino Branca – started printing calendars to advertise its products on the national and international market.
In those years before the turn of the century, the Belle Époque was at its height and Art Nouveau-style advertising posters were enjoying their moment of glory. The most famous ones are probably French (by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec or Jules Chéret), but excellent posters were also created by Italian artists such as Giuseppe Amisani, Osvaldo Bellerio, Elio Stelminig, Plinio Codognato, and Leopoldo Metlicovitz. The latter was also the designer of the Branca logo, described in the 1905 trademark registration document as “a globe surmounted by an eagle, which holds between its claws a labeled bottle”.
The images in the calendars published by Branca “give life to a lively account of some of the most relevant events. They form an extraordinary gallery, almost a picture gallery, dedicated to the ephemeral nature of calendars, in which the feminine element is central… A clearly deliberate and nonconformist choice for a “strong” product that certainly is the prerogative of a masculine consumer” (from Soc. Anon. Fratelli Branca Milano, “Novare serbando. 1845”, Fratelli Branca Distillerie-Milano, Milan, 2002, pp. 70-71).
Here is a gallery of those splendid publications, currently at the Branca Collection-Musem in Milan.
Photos via Soc. Anon. Fratelli Branca Milano, “Novare serbando. 1845”, Fratelli Branca Distillerie-Milano, Milan 2002