Saturday, 2 June 2012

Georges Grellet (1869-1959)

"Au Revoir" .......... an etching aquatint. 

Everything you would expect from a French boudoir picture; a pretty girl dressed "a la mode" with her Borzoi waving goodbye to her lover ? This etching is by one lesser known names of the Boudoir Art genre - Georges Grellet (1869-1959) - I am not say that his art in any way inferior, it's just that his art is not as well know (or reproduced) to us anglo's as say Louis Icart. Within the genre he is accepted as a major artist, certainly in terms of quality, as you can see from my initial pick.

Francois Joseph Georges Grellet, to give him his full name, was born in the city of Tours into an ordinary working class family with no artistic pedigree. I have not been able to trace any details about his early life or artistic education, before his acceptance in 1890 to study at the Beaux Art School in Paris, studies which he failed to complete as a result of being called up for National Service in the army.

On his return to Paris after his time as an 13th Regiment infantryman in Angers, he successfully pursued an  artistic career. He soon established a name as a quality graphic artist creating images, usually containing pretty women, that would be used as adverts, magazine covers and posters. Journals and magazine that employed Grellet include, La Caricature, Le Sourire and Ridendo.

In these earlier pictures, like those of Maurice Milliere, his girls are perhaps more risque with 
edwardian stocking and pantaloon showing, especially compared to the etching above. Perhaps it was the time or more likely the type of publication that commissioned these illustrations. The "lads mags" of there day.

"Le Sourire De France" - these date to c1917 - Link

As with most commerical illustrators, he took commissions from all sources. He illustrated many specialist books and editions including such titles as Histoire et Contes par L.-G. Toraude (1907) and Les Pastilles Valda (1907). Neither of these are particularly erotic, so perhaps at this date he had not developed his boudoir style. However, for the 1937 edition of Helene Corianis by Mme Columb, his illustrative style was more like the art deco girls we associate him with.

Surprisingly, his boudoir illustrations and etchings do not appear to have been reproduced as postcards. You would have expected his style to exactly the type of image to be popular with the card sending public. The postcards designed by him are rare, I only found 2 examples, neither particularly boudoiresque !!

Georges Grellet's boudoir etchings and aquatints date from c1925 until c1935, well into an already successful career. Why he waited so long is a mystery, possibly he was too busy with his commercial contracts that he did have the time to or need to diversify into print making ?? I'm pleased he did, these print are a more permanent legacy to his skills as an artist than the more ephemeral magazines and periodicals.

these date to 1925 (left) and c1927 (right)

Dating his etching is little difficult because not all have been annotated with copyright details. The earlist seems to be 1925 and run through to the mid 1930's with "Au Revoir" dating to 1932. His style develops through this period with later creations being more colourful and exuberant than the more demure earlier compositions.

lithographs - late 1920's

His pictures are easy to recognise with the illustrations and lithographs being signed within the designs and the original etchings being signed in pencil in the margins. Various signatures have been noted, most commonly Georges Grellet, G Grellet and occassionly just Grellet. You known you have made it if you can just sign with your surname, a la Garbo or Picasso !!

Typical signature

this one reminds me of William Ablett !

By the late 1930's his pictures are becoming scare, perhaps his time has passed ! He did continue to exhibit at the Salon es Homoristes until 1940 after which little is heard of him. No doubt living in occupied Paris during WW11 wasn't an inspiration to create sexy images looking back to the belle epoque !! - He died on the March 30th 1959 leaving behind him these beautiful picture and prints that we still enjoy today.

SEE - for current stock.

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