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George Barbier was one of the great French illustrators of the early 20th century. Born in Nantes, France October 10, 1882, he was a student of J.P. Laurens at the Beaux-Arts and exhibited at the Salon des Humoristes in 1910 under the name of Edouard William. The following year he began working at the gallery of Boutet de Monvel. From 1912 to his death he regularly figured into Salon des Artistes Décorateurs and was the recipient of many prizes. For the next 20 years Barbier led a group from the École des Beaux Arts whom Vogue nicknamed "The Knights of the Bracelet"—a tribute to their fashionable and flamboyant mannerisms and style of dress. Included in this élite circle were Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, Charles Martin, and his cousins Bernard Boutet de Monvel and Pierre Brissaud. He contributed to Gazette du Bon Ton, le Jardin des Dames et des Modes, Modes et Manières d'Aujourd'hui, Les Feuillets d'Art, Fémina, Vogue, and Comœdia Illustré. His career also included jewelry, glass, and wallpaper designs. Through the Max Weldy Studios he created a number of décors and costumes for the Folies Bergère and other music halls. He is credited with the costume for Rudolph Valentino in the movie Monsieur Beaucaire. In the mid 1920s he worked with Erté to design sets and costumes. In 1929 he wrote the introduction for Erté's acclaimed exhibition and achieved mainstream popularity through regular appearances in L'Illustration magazine. Barbier was also one of many artists who made a living illustrating limited "editions de luxe," intended to be collectors’ items due to their rarity and high standards of printing. Eagerly collected In France in the teens and twenties these classics and contemporary works were illustrated by leading artists of the day and often bound in lavish, specially designed bindings. Artists such as Guy Arnoux, George Barbier, Leon Benigni, Benito, Brunelleschi, Georges Lepape, Charles Martin, and Andre Marty found a lucrative demand for contributions which brought a considerable amount of prestige. The first book of this kind done by Barbier, in 1913, was an album of drawings of Nijinsky, the dancer, done in his various roles in the Ballets Russes. 1914 saw a similar album of Karsavina. Done mostly in black and white, it is in these that the similarity to Beardsley's style is most evident. After these albums, Barbier seemed to pull away from this style, using more color and less outlining to make his graphic statements. Barbier died in 1932 at the very pinnacle of his success.
One of the great French illustrators of the early 20th century, he was also a designer of theater and ballet costumes, a journalist and writer.
Barbier was born in Nantes, France and moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. There he studied alongside many of the fellow artists and illustrators later dubbed "The Knights of the Bracelet," by Vogue, which included Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, and Charles Martin. Over the course of his career, he contributed to many popular journals of the day including Gazette du bon ton, Les feuillets d'art, Fémina, Vogue, and Comoedia Illustré. He created set designs and costumes for the Folies Bergère, and worked as an illustrator for artists’ books and “editions de luxe.” Very little documentation of Barbier’s personal life survives today; he died at the pinnacle of his success at the age of 50.
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