Sunday, May 4, 2014

Print of the Day: An Advertisement for Pear's Soap, 1900

Printed for A. & F. Pears Soap, Ltd., 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the V&A, we have this lovely chromolithograph which advertises for the trademark product of A. & F. Pears Ltd.—a transparent amber soap.  Pears Soap was marketed as being an  alternative to the  harsh contemporary soaps which had flooded the market at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

Andrew Pears founded the firm at the turn of the Eighteenth Century, and, in the mid-Nineteenth Century, the company took on a new partner, Thomas J. Barratt who was given the task of staving off fierce the fierce competition posed by the numerous soap concerns which had begun to flood the British market.

Barratt concocted a series of very expensive and original publicity schemes, the most famous of which was the adaptation of John Everett Millais' celebrated painting “Bubbles” as an advertisement for Pears Soap. Barratt also promoted popular art of the day through the pages of Pears Annual (published 1890-1921, and price six pence until 1915). Presentation plates like this chromolithograph were given as free gifts as a separate package with Pears Annual.  

The scheme aimed to link their product with the art and culture of the era.
  The Annual and these free chromolithographs were meant to appeal to the middle and upper classes who would be able to purchase soap from A.F. Pears, Ltd. The prints were meant to be framed and displayed at home—reminding the homeowner of Pears Soap and giving the public the impression that Pears was always in fashion.  This example depicting a filthy child and a cute, dirty dog dates to 1900.  

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