Leonetto Cappiello was born in Livorno Italy. He first
began painting in 1886 at the age of 11 and his school
books were soon filled with drawings. In 1892 at the
age of 17 he knew all the painters of Livorno and Tuscany,
and had his first exhibit in Florence. He developed his skills
in caricature and in 1896 had his first album of caricatures
"Lanterna Magica" published.
In 1898 Cappiello traveled to Paris where his brother works
in the stock market. His first important encounter was with
a fellow Italian in Paris, Puccini. He subsequently does his
first works of Puccini in 'Le Rire' a humours revue, where he
will continue to do caricatures through the early 1900's. His
caricatures were of all the most famous artists of the time
and becomes a part of the Pais scene, with Yvette Guilbert,
Puccini, Sarah Bernhardt etc. In 1899 another album of his
caricatures appears "Nos Atrices" (Our Actors) printed by
the Revue Blanche.
1899 Cappiello starts his career in graphic design and posters
with the appearance of Cachou Lajaunie, Les Amandines des
Provence. By 1904 Cappiello has so much work he abandons
his work with editions like Assiette du Beurre and La Rire and
others, where he is predominantly a Caricaturist and begins
focusing solely on his graphics. During the years between 1899
and 1939 he is responsible for over 3000 posters.
His early designs were revolutionary, and he continually transformed his style leaving caricature design for graphic design eventually, starting with Parapluies Revel in 1922 and continuing up until his last pieces like Mossant and the Paris Expostion.
The emerging fashions of mass graphic design & large wall broadsheet like posters dominated public design in Paris at the time, along with design studios like "The Alliance Graphique"with other notable designers such as Cassandre and his generation of illustrators.