Preserved Colonial-era French Advertisement Posters on Hanoi Street

Vintage posters, which were once the iconic representation of French colonial art, are currently being exhibited in the center of Hanoi.

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A recently discovered mid-20th-century French advertising poster in Hanoi has been revealed as a highlight of the Cua Nam Flower Garden art project. The poster, which was covered up shortly after its discovery in early 2023, has now been preserved as part of the project. It features French print advertising Goodyear car tires at the top and Evian-Cachat bottled water at the bottom. The poster, which has aesthetic and historical value, has generated excitement among people interested in history and heritage. It is considered a precious heritage of the French colonial period. The local government has temporarily covered the poster with a tarp to protect it.

Passersby in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, are intrigued by the poster, which has survived to this day thanks to an accidental shield – the community house built next to the wall. Only when the People’s Committee of Cua Nam Ward cleared the site for the construction of a traffic island in 2023 did the poster come to light. Le Van Quy, a resident of Cua Nam Ward, said that almost no one in the area knew about the existence of this poster until it was exposed after the demolition of the community house. It is believed to have been made in the 1940s.

The poster is a remnant of the French colonial era and has generated interest among Vietnamese and foreigners alike. The print on the poster reads: “A tire that’s tough enough to bite the road can only be made by Goodyear.” People are impressed by the way advertising posters were designed in the past and see it as a mark of a historical period worth remembering.

The Cua Nam Flower Garden project aims to enhance the appeal and meaning of the poster by decorating the surrounding walls with replicas of paintings and posters from the French colonial era. The project tells a fascinating story about the advertising industry in Hanoi before 1954, featuring famous international and domestic brands. One of the advertisements is for “Le Mur Ao dai,” designed by Hanoi artist Nguyen Cat Tuong. The remaining wall is adorned with a copy of the silk painting titled “Spring Flower Market” by the late painter Luong Xuan Nhi.

The project also plans to install models of women wearing traditional Vietnamese four- and five-piece dresses on the lawn of the flower garden. Additionally, a stone sculpture recalling the architecture of the ancient Cua Nam City Gate will be featured in the opposite area of the garden.

Future renovations of the Cua Nam Flower Garden include paving the walkways with appropriate materials, adding more lawns and trees, and installing uniform urban furniture such as trash cans, benches, and lighting. These improvements aim to make the flower garden more pleasing to the people.