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BERNARD BOUTET DE MONVEL

PARIS 1884 – AçORES 1949

Son of painter-etcher Maurice Boutet de Monvel and a pupil of Luc-Oliver Merson and Jean Dampt, Bernard Boutet de Monvel exhibited his work at the Salon from 1902. He produced about a hundred stylized and refined color etchings, often featuring Balzac’s Lions and the elegant figures of the Directory period. Besides these evocations of the demi-monde, he also depicted more popular subjects (The Beggars, The Tramps) and landscapes. He was present at the Salon of the Société de la Gravure Originale en Couleurs from 1904, when he exhibited eighteen etchings, including The Bar, The Skater, and The Haulers. He also participated at this Salon in 1905, 1907, 1909, 1911 and after the war in 1920. From 1912 he also contributed to the Gazette du Bon Ton.
The prints of Boutet de Monvel, who had a stylized drawing manner, presented the same dual themes as other artists, such as Chahine and Legrand. He showed the elegant world of the upper class, this world depicted by Boutet de Monvel was filled with assorted “dandies” and their fancy automobiles along with society women and their pursuits. However, he did not look down on his subjects that were taken from the lower, working classes; those that were more mundane and humble. Here he depicted scenes of manual labor, of fishermen, of working women, scenes of poverty, and also landscapes. During this period Eugène Delatre printed many of his works.
From the first exposition of the Societe de la Gravure Originale en Couleurs in 1905, at the gallery of Georges Petit, he was an enthusiastic participant. He printed with Eugène Delâtre. Starting with editions of twenty-five, Boutet de Monvel increased his print run to sixty or one hundred as his work became commercially successful. He illustrated for La Gazette du bon ton, which was founded in 1912. That same year he was a part of the Atelier français rue de Courcelles and he made nine plates for a weekly column in the magazine La Vie parisienne. He illustrated for many other publication between 1900 and 1930, including the Farce de Maître Pathelin, which printed sixteen of his plates.

From: Jacques Busse: E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Paris, 1999; and Phillip Cate: From Pissarro to Picasso: Color Etching in France, Rutgers, 1992.