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Pour St Moritz by George Barbier (Photo credit: Google Images)

I have been trying to understand the conflict in the Middle East, but had to pause because reports I read seemed to contradict one another.

It therefore occurred to me to send you an amusing post.

The Monvel are a dynasty. Bernard is the son of Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel (18 October 1850 – 16 March 1913), but he had cousins who where also illustrators and designers. George Barbier (1882–1932) was a first cousin who made illustrations for fashion magazines. He may be the better-known Boutet de Monvel. Pierre Brissaud (23 December 1885–1964) was also a first cousin.

However, the most sophisticated and wealthiest was Bernard Boutet de Monvel (9 August 1881 – 28 October 1949) who travelled back and forth between Paris and New York to decorate homes. He was enormously talented and elegant. Bernard was killed in the plane crash that also took the life of Ginette Neveu (11 August 1919 – 28 October 1949) and her brother, her accompanist. Ginette Neveu was one of the best violinists ever. World boxing champion Marcel Cerdan, Édith Piaf‘s partner at the time, was another victim of the crash.


Bernard Boutet de Monvel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A  Golden Age of Illustration

France didn’t have a Golden Age of illustration, at least not for children’s literature. However, it had a golden age of fashion illustrators whose pochoirs (stencils) appeared on the cover of French magazines and other magazines, such as Vogue. Particularly famous was George Barbier who is associated mainly with La Gazette du bon ton. George Barbier and Pierre Brissaud were Bernard’s first cousins. All were illustrators, but none had the sophistication of Bernard Boutet de Monvel. Bernard was a work of art as a person and slightly précieux. His portrait of The Maharaja of Indore seems a reflection of Bernard Boutet de Monvel, the artist.


The Maharaja of Indore by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, c. 1934 (Photo credit: Google Images)

Fashion and the Ballets Russes

In other words, France had its Golden Age of illustrators, but only Louis-Maurice, Bernard’s father, was mainly an illustrator of children’s literature, not his son nor his nephews, George Barbier and Pierre Brissaud. They illustrated fashion magazines and worked for the Ballets Russes, as did Pablo Picasso.

My posts on the Boutet de Monvel dynasty generated an interest in pochoirs. Reproductions are now available from various companies.


Illustrating Fashion Magazines: Barbier & Colleagues (16 August 2014)
George Barbier’s Fêtes galantes (14 August 2014)
The Art of Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1 September 2012)
The Ballets Russes, Vaslav Nijinsky & George Barbier (27 July 2012)


With best wishes to all of you. ♥ 


© Micheline Walker
3 January 2016