Rene Gruau was born Renato Conte Zavagli-Ricciardelli delle Caminat in 1909 in the seaside town of Rimini, Italy to an Italian count father and aristocratic French mother. When his parents separated three years later, Rene followed his mother back to France and adopted her (much simpler) surname of Gruau. A childhood spent around his elegant mother inspired Gruau to pursue fashion illustration; a burgeoning career choice at a time when shopping was becoming accessible to a growing middle class. Early works were commissioned by the top magazines of the day, such as Marie Claire and Vogue. The outbreak of WWII abruptly halted Gruau’s commercial work and forced him to approach relatively unknown designers for fashion illustration commissions. One of those designers was named Christian Dior. The partnership between Gruau and Dior catapulted both of their careers post-War, and Gruau continued to create advertisements for the brand after Dior’s death, well into the 1980s. While Gruau created advertisements for everything from the Moulin Rouge to Guerlain perfume, his designs for Dior remain the most iconic (see one especially charming one, below). Rene Gruau passed away in 2004, at the age of 95 and leaves us with an oeuvre of exciting, elegant, and vibrant graphics to enjoy.
Rene Gruau’s style combines an influence of Japanese woodblock prints and the simplified forms of Toulouse Lautrec with a bright and lively color palette. The combination of these elements lends his works an unmistakable feeling of joie de vivre and elegance. While fashion is often the subject of Gruau’s works, it is the female form that most grabs the viewer’s attention. ”Gruau’s women are not gamines and never pinups,” Gilles de Bure wrote in ”Gruau,” a biography published in 1989. ”They stroll along the Avenue Montaigne, the paths of the Bagatelle, the Croisette in Cannes. They float, they appear, they disappear as if they had neither body nor flesh.”
We are proud to have a selection of hand-signed and numbered prints available at The Ross Art Group. All were created 1988-1990 and are expertly printed on thick, deckled edge paper. We invite you to browse the pieces we have available