Thursday, December 23, 2010

La Vie Parisienne

Recently, a friend with a vested interest in mermaids posted a couple of truly lovely illustrations on facebook (via the always wonderful Coilhouse), both from a French magazine, La Vie Parisienne, of which I had never heard.

I did a little digging and found that La Vie Parisienne, founded in 1863, but achieving its greatest popularity in the early years of the 20th century, was a high class rag, featuring art and humor and literature, but was best known for its charming illustrations of scantily clad pretty girls. It was all very tasteful (more Esquire than Playboy or Police Gazette) and none of the pictures I've seen would raise much of a modern eyebrow. However, during the war years, that old prude General Pershing warned his troops against its corrupting influence. History has neglected to note if there was a subsequent spike in sales.

What is of most interest to me are the illustrators. I'm pretty familiar with most of the great American and British illustrators of the fin de siècle, but not the European ones who remained in Europe (a few, such as Raphael Kirchner, wound up in New York working for Flo Ziegfield). But others, such as Chéri Hérouard and Georges Léonnec (who painted the lovely blue-haired mermaid above) are new to me - though, after performing a couple of image searches, I've realized I've seen their work without knowing who was responsible for creating it. I've been looking at pages and pages of illustrations from La Vie Parisienne for a few days now, and they are just gorgeous. Sexy and full of charm, not at all vulgar. I'm a little obsessed with old fashioned ink and watercolor technique - it all looks so perfect and seamless! I love fine art, but for good or ill, illustration is where I live. Below find some lovely examples from the glory years of La Vie Parisienne.

Chéri Hérouard, 1921

another Chéri Hérouard

Georges Léonnec, 1916

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