Chinol Aperitivo Poster
This is an advertising poster for the Italian aperitif Chinol. The liquor brand was born thanks to Giovanni Dalle Molle (1874-1938). He was the owner of the Milanese Crystall Acque Gazzose, and began to take his first steps in the liquor business in Padua where he ran a small bar. Here, toward the end of World War I, he produced China Americana, a mix of cinchona, distillates and grappa that proved most effective in fighting Spanish fever. On April 18, 1921, he founded with his partner Antonio Smania a distillery for the production of Chinol, advertised as “the only natural aperitif” produced with special cinchona calissaia bark, Chinese rhubarb and other aromatic medicinal herbs, also recommended in the treatment of malarial diseases, stomach weakness, inappetence, poor digestion and nervous suffering.
The billboard was made by Enzo Forlivesi Montanari, also known as Araca. He was reputed in the international arena as a valuable artist. He was born in Santiago in 1898 and he died in Milan in 1989. Araca trained in Paris at the Grande Chaumière Academy. Then he was hired by the Dorland graphic factory; later he landed at the famous Maison Vercasson dealing among the others with advertising for Mobiloil. In 1933 He moved to Milan and began working for Arti Grafiche Baroni and for the Bernardi firm, also doing business on his own as both an advertising and design studio. His most famous posters are those for the Milan Fair (1930), for the Padua Fair (1931) and for the Fiera di Levante in Bari (1931). At French publishers he executed numerous successful advertisements signing with his own surname. Instead, in Italy he signed with the Spanish pseudonym of “Araca” (Italian interjection: “perbacco!” similar to the English one: “my word/goodness!”) as he could not use his own name for contractual reasons with French printers.
This poster, inevitably brings to mind the posters made and posted during the years of World War I to invite citizens to enlist in the military draft. The two most iconic examples internationally are Alfred Leete’s made in 1914 for the British Army and James Montgomery Flagg’s in 1917 for the US Army. Instead, in Italy the posters made by Achille Luciano Mauzan in 1917. Almost 10 years later Araca brings this symbolism back to the streets. It is important to underline the radically change of the context from the military to the commercial one. He visually synthesized the iconic billboards with a single hand with a pointing finger standing out in red against a neutral background. Parallelism is repeated not only figuratively and by the composition of the elements but also textually with the imperative tones ordering, in this case, to drink the aperitif Chinol.
Perhaps this return to authorial and patriotic tones is influenced by the sociopolitical context of those years in which fascism was growing stronger and stronger, but maybe also for a reason more closely related to the product.In fact, since the aperitif had become famous for its healing properties, it may be that the imperative tones are used more as advice, almost as if there were a doctor behind the poster telling you the formula for getting well. Concluding by, it is interesting to notice that Araca will also use the hand as the main element in later posters. For instance, in the billboards for: Fiera di Levante in Bari (1937 and 1950); Ramazzotti bitter (1940); Il Tempo daily newspaper (1946) and Amaretto di Saronno (1955).
Antonio Dalle Molle, Marco Bertoli, Simone Marzari, Giustina Porcelli, Il Cynar e i suoi fratelli: Una storia italiana irripetibile, Moellini, Milano 2018.
AA.VV., Catalogo Bolaffi del Manifesto Italiano, Giulio Bolaffi Editore, Torino 1995
Lucia Sartor, Fact Sheet, Collezione Salce, 2014 https://sigecweb.beniculturali.it/sigec/item/print/ICCD11454771
[last access: 26th June 2023]