The artistes who were best able to entertain or shock the audience became celebrities.
The hype surrounding people of relatively humble origins, intellect, or education was a new phenomenon: a cult fed by the emergence of publicity photographs and the illustrated press, but also by the posters, sheet music and autonomous prints created by contemporary printmakers.
Less famous artistes were often depicted in prints as types. Ibels was the master when it came to immortalising workers like this, who earned their living as clowns, acrobats and wrestlers. His comical prints express a clear sympathy for these demi-cabots (marginal artistes).
Georges d’Esparbes et al., Demi Cabots. Le Café-Concert, Le Cirque, Les Forains, Paris 1896
Phillip Dennis Cate, The Graphic Arts and French Society, New Brunswick 1988
Richard Thomson et al., Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, Washington 2005