Bernard Boutet de Monvel


The picture on the left is a self-portrait by Monvel, painted in 1932. It is posed in the Place de Vendome in Paris.

Count Bernard Boutet de Monvel was born in Paris, France in 1884. He used the name "Monvel" to sign his sketches, and this is the name by which he is mostly known.

He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1908 to 1910 where his companions included George Barbier and Barbier's cousin Pierre Brissaud, as well as Besnard, Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape and George Martin. All became famous illustrators.

Fellow Zouave officer of Jean Patou, he was a talented painter and illustrator. From 1910, Lucien Vogel commissioned him to draw fashion illustrations in the French fashion magazine, the Gazette du Bon Ton until the publication folded in 1925. On the right is an illustration from the Gazette du Bon Ton in 1912, and on the left is an illustration done by Monvel in the Gazette in 1914.

He took part in World War I as an aviator and saw action in the Northern part of France, the Somme, where there was so much loss of life.

Monvel traveled to Morocco and his illustrations for the Gazette just after World War I, tended to show life in French Colonies, such as "Caravane", "Fez" and "Negresse" in 1918, giving a romanticized side of French people living in foreign countries.

After World War I, Monvel contributed fashion illustrations to Femina, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. His economic, controlled style was in great demand and he was responsible for the design of many of Jean Patou advertisements.

One of his paintings "La Grande Route" from 1920 shows the influence that the Impressionists artists had on his work.

In 1923, when Vogue published photographs of it's accredited illustrators, Monvel was shown as one Vogue's French artists posted in Paris. He seemed to be regularly contributing to Vogue throughout the 20's.

He was a talented portraitist, painting George Marie Haardt in 1924 and Alfred Cortot in 1927. He made several studies for portraits, and below on the left, is one of a young girl made by him in 1928.

On the right is an illustration from 1933 which Movel made for two evening dresses designed by great Paris designer Madeleine Vionnet.

In the early 1930's Monvel painted several buildings in New York, such as a view of Wall Street, and high rise buildings. He continued painting up until his death.

He died in an aeroplane accident in 1949 at the age of 65.

A retrospective exhibition of the work of Bernard Boutet de Monvel was held on 30th June 2001 at the Fondation Mona Bismarck in Paris. A book of his work has also been published, it was written by Stephane-Jacques Addade, and shows more than 300 coloured reproductions of his paintings and illustrations.

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Bernard Boutet de Monvel, 1881-1949 :
by Bernard de Monvel

AW 2002