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Vogue, its first issue, 17 December 1892 (Wikipedia) or its May 1917 issue, as the cover indicates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vogue, its first issue, 17 December 1892, and its May 1917 cover. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Content & Style

George Barbier
La Gazette du Bon Ton
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.

Tamara Karsaniva, George Barbier

Tamara Karsavina as Salomé by George Barbier

(Please click on the images to enlarge them.)

Nijinsky in Schéhérazade, 1910, George Barbier

Nijinsky in Schéhérazade, 1910, by George Barbier (Photo credit: Google images)

Fashion Magazines and haute couture illustrators

La 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.

Rentrons Robe de plage de chez Beer

Rentrons (Let’s go home)
Robe de plage de Beer by Pierre Brissaud, 1920 (Photo credit: Google images)

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’artCondé Nast owned the American Gazette du Bon Genre, examples of which can be read online. Click on: Gazette du Bon Genre.

Miniature ancienne, Bernard B. de Monvel

Miniature ancienne by Bernard B. de Monvel, 1913

(George Barbier & Paul Iribe) 

Bernard Boutet de Monvel, 1914

Le Matin, Place Vendôme by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, 1914

Costumes Parisiens, Pour Stl Moritz George Barbier

 (George Barbier, above and below)

(moineaux are sparrows)

Helen Dryden, May, 1921

Helen Dryden, May 1921

Le Jeu des Grâces, George Barbier

Le Jeu des Grâces,* George Barbier

* The Game of Graces

(Photo credit: L’Illustration, No. 3671, 5 Juillet 1913 [EBook #36357] (above and below)

Robes neuves, Georges Lepage

Robes neuves (New Dresses), Georges Lepage

Les Chiens suivent aussi la mode, Bernard B. de Monvel

Les Chiens suivent aussi la mode,* Bernard Boutet de Monvel

* Dogs also follow fashion.


Sources and Resources


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 LeroyZyg 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)
Bonnet de voyage, Georges Lepage

Bonnet de voyage, Georges Lepage

© Micheline Walker
16 August 2014