27 August 2012

René Gruau-in Paris


We don't always know what we'll get with an artist. Is his home the embodiment of his art?

the artist at work in his Paris apartment, 1951.

In the case of René Gruau there are no Surprises. His women would be quite at home.
Elegant, Soignee, Refined-All come to mind. Gruau was perhaps the illustrator of his times-and became inexorably linked to Christian Dior's 1947 debut collection of full skirts and cinched waists known as "The New Look." An exhibition at Somerset House in London a few years ago bears witness to the long partnering of Dior and Gruau.

A star emboldens his signature and his women mostly insinuate themselves across a white veneer of paper. That graphic white-black- red punctuate Gruau's drawings. A slash of Gruau's ink could represent Soignee, Mystery, Sex-or all three. That is the gift of Gruau's art. In a period where there were no Helen Gurley Brown's, Rene Gruau was selling-signaling that women were sensual and seductive.

The Paris apartment Gruau painted in was an ideal backdrop to his work. Can you imagine Gruau's women anywhere else?

the artist's atelier
his drawings- paintings hang amongst Classical objects, at far right, a masked bust, a recurring theme in his art
below, a Jean Desses, masked sphinx label, 1952.

The Salon and the Atelier flow into one another-French chairs, English tables, fresh flowers-blood red walls underlined by that all important Gruau white in fabrics, white moldings and statuary. True to his approach in Art-Gruau believed the Classic form, the elegant line. His home while quite beautiful- is the backdrop to his more alluring women. A Gruau women is confidently-nonchalantly on the edge-should we say? Why not?

Is it just a little reminiscent of Beaton's Reddish House?

Taking a line from the most elegant of all artists -René Gruau translates Lucien Lelong's Drapé a la Boldini evening gown, 1946.

A quintessentially English Dining Room with Chippendale chairs and couture colors-Shocking Pink & Malachite.

René Gruau illustration of Cristóbal Balenciaga & Marcel Rochas Evening Gowns, 1942.

The bedroom lined with paintings and dominated by a lady in black along with bookcases, comfortable chairs and a fur bed cover. Another masked lady-this time in a portrait.

the Gruau woman of Mystery

another view of the bedroom with its wall to wall paintings

the artist in 1986

René Gruau, son of an Italian count-and the aristocratic French Maria Gruau-Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Caminate began drawing at the age of 14 to support himself and his mother & worked well into the 1990's. He died in 2004 at the age of 95.


all images of the Gruau apartment are from PLAISIR de FRANCE, Septembre 1951.

Gruau illustrations 1 for Dior. 2 for Dior,1949 & 3 Maggie Rouff, from 1947. Gruau Sphinx-4 Jean Desses, 1951 & 5 for Dior, 1950. 6 illustration for Lucien Lelong,1946. 7 &  8 Evening gowns, from the 1940's. 9 & 10,11,12, illustrations by Gruau.

original pieces from the artist are offered here


  1. I relished every bit of this. Loved the views of his atelier, as stylish as his illustrations. Thank you for this inside look. All of your posts are a real treat.

  2. Very chic. I loved it all.

  3. I enjoyed looking at the interior views, as well as the drawings, all elegant. With such stylish drawings, there always seems to be a relationship to economy of line.

  4. My fascination with interiors--and specifically, historic interiors, however you want to define 'historic'--goes way back but I never had any interest at all in women's fashion, so Rene Gruau is a name that's brand new to me. But it shouldn't be, because if I had ever seen one of his incredibly elegant and assured drawings, I would have been hooked, not for their content but for their style. How could I have never seen one of these before? And how many dozens of drawings did he have to do of, say, that red jacket before he got it absolutely right, looking as if he whipped it off on the spur of the moment? Holy kamoly. Anyway, thanks for the introduction. And I love his atelier, which I've also never seen. What a great color sense. I feel like I've been living under a rock.

  5. You are such a "TREAT"!!!!

    Words do not suffice!

    something reminds me of Vertes in all of this.......(they might not like that!) but so few brushstrokes to create a face!?!

    Brilliant post! And you have so much insight!

    Lovely, and thank you!


  6. The English George III/Regency furniture was a surprise and quite in tune with Gruau's aesthetic. Great post. Mary

  7. Delicious! All, but especially the interiors. I could move right in.

  8. LOVE seeing the interior atelier of my favorite artist! thanks for sharing :-)

  9. I love this post on Gruau. I recognized his work but did not know the artist. His work was gorgeous and I loved seeing all the images. His apartment was the perfect environment for this elegant man and his very stylish work. Thanks for giving us such a wonderful peak into his art and his world.

  10. Love these rooms and the man and art that went with them. Thank you!

  11. Another wonderful post Gaye. The similarities between Gruau's home and Beaton's Reddish House are astounding--identical paint, moldings, ceiling! I even looked up Reddish House on Wikipedia--but although Robert Fripp (!)owned it for awhile, the article never mentioned Gruau.

    Speaking of Boldini, have you seen this post on the For Pilar blog?
    It's from an article about an apartment in France--"The woman who owned the flat had left for the south of France before the Second World War and never returned." It was opened on her death (2010) and contained, among other pricelss treasures, an original Boldini. Amazing story!

  12. This post is so full of great images, Little Augury. Your pairing of the artists, their artwork, and their interiors is very savvy. Loved this post.

    I'd love for you to express your point of view with some commentary at Toile La La.

  13. Little Augury, this was a wonderful way to present the Gruau, his artwork, and his surroundings. Very savvy! I love your commentary and images here.

    I'd love for you to visit Toile La La and comment there.

  14. We also got to visit the British Museum, and I especially enjoyed the Olympic exhibit. Even though the Olympics are over, there are still London 2012 flags everywhere and Paralympics posters are plastered all around the city. student accommodation london

  15. Hey,

    Great photos and art. I never have seen some of these. I have a site on Gruau too. Please take a look at:http://gruauillustrator.blogspot.com/

    Thanks! TD

  16. I have a very sensuous and stunningly beautiful original 27"x67" oil painting by Rene Gruau that shows only the faces of a beautiful blond woman and a black man obviously "apre le incident". The painting was given to me by my brother who was a fashion designer in Paris. He died in 1994 and was the head designer for Chemise La Coste at that time. I have seen hundreds of Gruau's paintings and illustrations but have never seen one with a similar theme. I have it displayed in the master bedroom of my home. I have thought about selling it because of my age but haven't quite gotten there yet.

    1. Arturo-let me know if you want to share it on little augury via a photograph. sounds incredible. I am sure it would bring a tidy sum! pgt

    2. Arturo-please click on the "View my complete Profile" under my pic and you will find my email address-touch base that way. I can contact you then-I do not receive your personal when you comment. Look forward to hearing from you. pgt



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