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Why Are Cigarettes So Sexy? A Story Of Art Nouveau Posters

Art Nouveau

Why Are Cigarettes So Sexy? A Story Of Art Nouveau Posters

Just to make it clear: smoking is bad.
But… why do all those smoking people look so sexy with cigarettes?! (Like Marlene Dietrich with her cigarette holder, or James Dean…). I suspect that this whole cigarettes-look-sexy business started with the early ads, which featured coquettish and beautiful women inviting one to buy cigarettes or rolling paper.
Who could possibly resist them? Here you will find the collection of Art Nouveau cigarette posters (so classy!)

Smoking Goddess no 1

Alphonse Mucha, JOB, 1896

JOB was not, in fact, a cigarette brand. They produced thin rolling papers made of rice paper, since in the 19th century most smokers rolled their own cigarettes. JB letters referred to the initials of the owner, Jean Bardou, while the ‘O’ was in reality a diamond shape which separated two letters in the first designs of the ads.

Smoking Goddess no 2

1897c Poster for 'Job' cigarette papers lithograph 152 x 102 cm

Alphonse Mucha, JOB, 1897

When Jean Bardou died, his son took over the company and invested in developing the advertisement for the brand. In the 1890s, he invited Alphonse Mucha, a famous Czech Art Nouveau artist to design some of the posters.
This cigarette goddess was inspired by Michelangelo’s Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel. She became so popular that the poster was produced also in a form of a lithograph. And gave a beginning to a series of other sexy posters.

A Non-Smoking Goddess For The Comparison


Michelangelo, The Sibyl, The Sistine Chapel, Vatican

Reclining Smoking Goddess

Aleardo Villa, Los Cigarillos Paris, 1901

Aleardo Villa, Los Cigarillos Paris, 1901

The success of JOB’s inspired other brands to follow in their footsteps. They cooperated with Mucha but also employed other artists like an Italian Aleardo Villa.

Luxurious Smoking Goddess


Stephano, Saphir Cigarettes, 1908

Machine rolled cigarettes were a luxurious product in 1908 when this poster was made. Stephano depicted a very exotic-looking woman smoking a cigarette and a Hookah at the same time. Such a Flapper she must have been!

Smoking Couples


Paul Harvey, The Original Double, 2008

Sexy cigarette designs by Mucha and others are still in fashion. In 2008 JOB invited a Stuckist artist Paul Harvey to design new posters in Mucha-inspired style. Harvey depicted famous doubles, which referred to the product, the “Original Double”.

Ah, and by the way, smoking kills.


Magda, an art historian-to-be, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.


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