Georges Lepape - Gifted Gallery
Georges Lepape, born 26 June 1887, was a French poster artist, illustrator, and fashion designer. Lepape’s work incorporates orientalist motifs with fluid lines, bold colouration, and graphic stylisations that are evocative of the Art Nouveau movement, which includes Alphonse Mucha, Erté, Gustav Klimt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Lepape studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at the age of eighteen and had his first exhibition in 1908. A year later he married Gabrielle Lauzanne. In 1909 he began his iconic collaboration with artist and fashion designer Paul Poiret. Over the next ten years or so, Poiret would become Paris’s leading designer whilst Lepape would be recognised as one of the world’s most brilliant fashion illustrators.
The artist’s body of work spans across media, designing book covers, playbills, magazines, advertisements, and textiles. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris held the first major exhibition of his work in 1920, and five years later he would be invited by publisher Condé Nast to work in New York. While there, he produced iconic cover art for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair magazines.
He was strongly influenced by orientalism and the Ballets Russes. His work showed a distinctive curvilinear style. He was better known than many other illustrators of the period, chiefly through his designs of posters and books as well as his work as a printmaker.
Besides his work for magazines, Georges also received numerous commissions from fashion, makeup, perfume and other luxury goods producers, as well as a few commissions from theatre owners for costume and set designs. From 1926, the author lived in New York City where Lepape further cemented a long and profitable relationship with Vogue.
Lepape was one of the dominant presences at Vogue till the mid-30's. In the book "Fashion Drawing in Vogue" it is mentioned "Georges Lepape, star designer of Vogue covers throughout the 20's, ever as delicate, witty and stylish as he was inventive, did surprisingly little illustration inside the magazine. It is on the cover that we find his really good work, like this charming young map-reader on the right, surely not lost and very much "a la mode" in a graceful ensemble of frock and coat."
After 1935 Lepape retreated from public life and very little is known about his life from then onwards. All that is known is that he continued to contribute to Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Femina, Vu, House and Garden and l'Illustration until the 1950s.
The artist remained an influential figure in the fashion and art worlds until his death 15 February 1971, in Bonneval, France at the age of 83.
In 2016 his illustration 'Le Miroir', a watercolour and ink on paper, broke an auction record in New York. An original 1927 Vogue cover, the piece sold for a record breaking $52,500 at auction, a far cry from the original estimate of $6,000 – $9,000.
Reading Recommendations & Content Considerations
The Art of Georges Lepape The Golden Age of Illustration in Paris
Claude Lepape & Thierry Defert April Calahan & Cassidy Zachary