Babar the Elephant, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, Condé Nast, fashion illustration, George Barbier, Jean de Brunhoff, La Gazette du Bon Genre, La Gazette du Bon Ton, Pierre Brissaud, Vogue
Content & StyleGeorge Barbier La Gazette du Bon Ton Fantasy Illustrators Designers Content as Style
In my last post, I stated that Leo Rauth (Wikipedia, in German) differed from George Barbier in that Barbier concentrated on fashion. In this regard, I was both right and wrong. Barbier’s illustrations were a gift to the fashion and publishing industries. However, in the artwork Barbier contributed to La Gazette du Bon Ton and other fashion magazines, he let fantasy guide him as did many other illustrators.[I] The same could be said about the designers.[II] Fantasy seems our keyword.
Moreover, it could well be that Rauth’s commedia dell’arte characters resemble Barbier commedia dell’arte characters because the subject matter tends to dictate style. In Barbier’s Fêtes galantes, the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte are depicted in Antoine Watteau‘s “galant” style, perhaps not to the same extent as Rauth’s commedia dell’arte‘s characters, but in a “galant” style nevertheless.
The term “galant” is associated with music composed in the eighteenth century but, interestingly, Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes would be an inspiration to late nineteenth-century French composers, Claude Debussy (22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) and Gabriel Fauré in particular. The decadent “fin de siècle” was also called “la Belle Époque.”
During the first years of the twentieth century, there occurred a merging of the arts prompted in part by Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes.
The Ballets Russes
We looked at Barbier’s illustrations of Paul Verlaine‘s Fêtes galantes, but as you know from earlier posts, published in 2012, Barbier also chose the Ballets Russes as one of his subjects. He portrayed not only Nijinsky, but also Russian prima ballerina Tamara Karsavina (10 March 1885 – 26 May 1978) during the years she worked for the Ballets Russes. Nikinsky, however, was its star.
In the work featured directly below, there are elements of Art Deco. The torchère is an Art Deco prop, avant la lettre. However, Barbier’s Vaslav Nijinsky flying in mid-air seems to me to be Barbier’s Vaslav Nijinsky flying in mid-air (Shéhérazade [Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov], 1910).
Art Deco is associated with the twenties, les Années folles, the Golden Twenties, but art movements overlap.
(Please click on the images to enlarge them.)
Fashion Magazines and haute couture illustratorsLa Gazette du Bon Ton (France) La Gazette du Bon Genre (New York) Vogue, etc. Lucien Vogel Condé Nast
A subscription to La Gazette du Bon Ton cost a fortune. It targeted the rich; wealthy New Yorkers in particular. The articles contained in both Gazettes were written impeccably, the publishers used good quality paper, and subscribers indulged their fantasies. Other fashion magazines were more affordable, so women dreamed, as did men. As noted in Wikipedia’s entry on Vogue magazine, the magazine sold profusely during the Great Depression:
“The magazine’s number of subscriptions surged during the Great Depression, and again during World War II.”
I should think that never had the superfluous been so essential than during these troubled times: fantasy! (See Vogue magazine, Wikipedia.) Men also wished to wear designer clothes. As I noted in my last post, Bernard Boutet de Monvel was a dandy. Certain clothes were not very practical. For instance, few women would wear clothes like Beer’s beach dress (robe de plage; Pierre Brissaud), shown below. But mothers sewed little sailor suits for their children.
La Gazette du Bon Ton: 1912 – 1925
La Gazette du Bon Ton was founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel and Michel de Brunhoff who later became the editor of Vogue Paris from 1929 to 1954. Lucien Vogel married Michel de Brunhoff’s sister, Cosette. Their brother, Jean de Brunhoof and his wife Cécile, created Babar the Elephant. Jean de Brunhoof died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-seven, but his son, Laurent de Brunhoof, continued his father’s work.
I will end this post with a display of the illustrations executed by several artists who, at times, were also designers. Such is the case with Bernard Boutet de Monvel and his two cousins, Barbier and Brissaud. But I will also show the work of other illustrators, Georges Lepage, who worked for the French Gazette du Bon Ton, and American illustrator Helen Dryden, whose art is superb. These artists also contributed artwork to other magazines on both sides of the Atlantic: Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Femina, Vogue and Les Feuillets d’art. Condé Nast owned the American Gazette du Bon Genre, examples of which can be read online. Click on: Gazette du Bon Genre.
(George Barbier & Paul Iribe)
(George Barbier, above and below)
(moineaux are sparrows)
(Photo credit: L’Illustration, No. 3671, 5 Juillet 1913 [EBook #36357] (above and below)
* Dogs also follow fashion.
- George Barbier’s Fêtes galantes (17 July 2014)
- Leo Rauth’s “fin de siècle” Pierrot (27 June 2014)
- The Ballets Russes, Vaslav Nijinsky & George Barbier (27 July, 2012)
- The Ballets Russes & the News (12 July 2012)
Sources and Resources
- Gazette du Bon Genre
- L’Illustration, No. 3671, 5 Juillet 1913 [EBook #36357]
I feel I’ve travelled to another world. A world to which I do not belong. However, discussing Barbier and his colleagues does provide examples of the acceptability of the decorative arts, interior design, haute couture, posters. Design is everywhere, from dishes to arranging food on a plate.
Note the influence of japonisme: flat colours and diagonal lines. Barbier’s Pour St. Moritz, is an example of japonisme. We are also looking at creative minds working together and constituting a network. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes were a beehive and a gathering place that attracted illustrators and designers. Living in such a milieu must have been very stimulating.
Where fashion is concerned, I did not mention Coco Chanel who triggered a revolution. Many women still dress à la Coco Chanel: elegance, but simplicity and comfort.
I must close.
My best regards to all of you.
____________________[I] Illustrators associated with La Gazette du Bon Ton were George Barbier, Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), Paul Iribe, Pierre Brissaud, André Edouard Marty, Thayaht (Ernesto Michahelles), Georges Lepape, Edouard Garcia Benito, Sœurs David (David Sisters), Pierre Mourgue, Robert Bonfils, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, Maurice Leroy, Zyg Brunner, and others. These illustrators also worked for other fashion magazines. [ii] Designers associated with La Gazette du Bon Ton were, to begin with, Louise Chéruit, Georges Dœuillet, Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, Redfern & Sons, and, after World War I, La Gazette du Bon Ton also showed Charles Worth. Étienne Drian, Gustav Beer, Kriegck, Larsen, Martial & Armand, and others. (see La Gazette du Bon Ton, Wikipedia.) Masques et Bergamasques, Gabriel Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) © Micheline Walker 16 August 2014 WordPress