Pernod Absinthe: The painting of Charles Maire

Pernod & Charles Maire Absinthe Painting

Pernod Charles Maire: Most important facts

As you know we have brought up the terms Absinthe and art quite frequently, especially in the same sentence. That is due to the fact that it just works together. However, there is one very famous painting, which some of you may already know about. This painting was used by Pernod and has been painted by the artist Charles Maire. But do you know the story behind the painting?

The painting by Charles Maire

Charles Maire was born in 1845 in Pontarlier, France. The small town next to the Jura mountains was on of the major Absinthe hubs during the golden age of Absinthe. Pernod ran a large factory in Pontarlier, but there were numerous other Absinthe distillers as well. During that time, Pontarlier was competing with other French cities for the fame of being the “Absinthe capital”. These were among others Fougerolles, Paris, Lyon, Chambéry, Romans, Marseille or Montpellier. The distillers were proud of their origin and commonly printed the city names on the label. You can say label-wise there was a competition going on between the different cities.

Absinthe Label Deniset Pontarlier
Old Absinthe Label showing the city of “Pontarlier”

Pernod and the painting of Charles Maire

Having this competitive situation in mind, it is easy to understand that Pernod showed some interest in one of the works from a local painter, Charles Maire. He painted a setting with a bottle of vintage Pernod Fils Absinthe, two Absinthe glasses, one filled with louched Absinthe, one water carafe and a newspaper of Pontarlier. A perfect work to be used for marketing!

Pernod acquired the copyrights an reproduced the original painting as lithographic prints. Soon after, the painting was present at almost every bistro in France. It was hung up in bars and cafés, in order to raise awareness and make people consume more (Pernod) Absinthe. The production run was in the hundred thousands. Nevertheless, it was a fame which the original author did not take advantage of. It served less Charles glory than that of Pernod. Although Pernod paid Mr. Maire five hundred francs, which was a significant amount for the needy Charles, he would have been better of, if he had demanded only a franc or ten centimes per copy produced. Well, life is bitter…

The reproduction of the Charles Maire Painting
Pernod workers reproducing the Charles Maire painting as a lithographic print

Charles died at the age of 74 in 1919 in Pontarlier but Pernod used his artwork till the 1970’s for marketing purposes. This is surprising, as Absinthe got banned in 1914 in France. But after Absinthe prohibition Pernod simply changed the alcoholic percentage on the bottle from 68% to legal 40% and wrote “Spiritueux Anise” instead of “Extrait d´Absinthe”. The picture resonated so well with consumers and became sort of an iconographic symbol for the brand, till today. Collectors are eagerly searching for well preserved originals..

We hope that you enjoyed this article. We are curious to know whether you knew about these paintings or not?

Much Love,

Nico from the ALANDIA-Team

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1 thought on “Pernod Absinthe: The painting of Charles Maire”

  1. There are two version of this picture. The earlier version with just the Pernod Fils label and after 1908 (I believe) when France passed a law that absinthe had to be at least 68 o proof a second version was produced with the 68 diamond shaped label on the bottle. The frames for both prints are slightly different as well.
    I am fortunate to have a near pristine copy hanging in my home.

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