L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bernard Boutet de Monvel - fashion illustration

I love the portraits of Boutet de Monvel. Sad that he still isn't at all well known; even finding good images of his work on the internet is a challenge. (A few are included in my earlier post on the Maharaja and Maharani of Indore.) His work is suave in the extreme and serenely classical - he reminds me of Ingres most of all - but still manages to be emblematic of its time and milieu, the Thirties and Forties, among the glamorous and very wealthy.

I'm always hunting around for reproductions of his paintings to share here, yet I wasn't aware of this earlier work, his spare and elegant fashion illustrations. Many of these images recall Japanese woodcuts. And they're often so droll; accustomed to the cool seriousness of his portrait work, I was unprepared for the sly wit on display here.

"Les Manteaux"



  1. Whenever I have encountered his work, I've always appreciated that he mastered the ability to, within a few deft lines, to convey precisely the fit, and cut of the garments he portrayed. One of the consistent issues I have had with so much fashion illustration is that mood is given primacy, leaving the viewer to wonder what the clothes actually look and feel like.

  2. His signature is almost as cool / elegant as yours.

  3. Another surprise from the archives! Had no idea that BBM was a fashion illustrator in his early years, though it's perfectly logical given his precision of line. Interesting to have it pointed out that his fashion drawings possess more wit than his cooly serious paintings--only the other day, looking at the catalogue of his estate from one of the auction houses, I couldn't overcome a mixed reaction to his portraits of society figures in their sleek perfection. Superb, but at the same time, airless and dry.

  4. always loved what i've seen -i think he's more well known in France than in the US?

  5. Such refined elegance. Spare of line yet they tell the story.

  6. He's very dry but wonderful Taittinger! Too bad we don't dress with this kind or droll elegance today.