About 13 years ago, my husband and I were celebrating a certain birthday I won’t share with you, when we saw this poster in the window of a small shop. The brilliant green color and bird hat on this wonderful woman stopped both of us. The store was Galerie Documents at 53 rue de Seine. We walked in and spoke to the charming owner, and left with this lady tucked under our arm.
The artist, Rene Gruau, was a renowned fashion illustrator who became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s. The store owner didn’t mention anything to us about the artist. We were just excited to have another option for our walls rather than a hodgepodge of family photos and nautical maps my husband collects!
Gruau’s artwork is recognized internationally in some of France and Italy’s most prestigious art museums, including the Louvre. He collaborated with fashion houses such as Givency, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Balmain and Dior during his career. He moved to the US in 1948 to work for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue before becoming the exclusive artist for Flair. We grabbed the two lipstick ads by him above a few years later and love how they look in our living room.
Bernard Villemot is another French graphic artist we discovered along the way. He is known for his iconic images of Orangina, Perrier and Air France from the 1950s.
We love how colorful and fun his images are, and they can be very reasonable if you want to decorate your walls with something different. Villemot won every award in his field, and was considered the greatest French “posterist” of his time. He died in 1989.
Our nautical maps have since been moved upstairs… It is hard for us to resist when we find a new poster by one of these artists or others. They add brilliant color to a room and an interesting piece of history – all at a wonderful value.
the wry home