René Gruau (Covignano 1909 - Rome 2004)

Elégante Sold

Brush and black ink and black wash, with touches of pink and red gouache.
Signed * Gruau at the lower right.
467 x 314 mm. (18 3/8 x 12 3/8 in.)


In an obituary for René Gruau, published in The Times, it was noted that, ‘Before photography reigned supreme in fashion, its new collections and attendant luxuries – perfumes, stockings, make-up – were recorded and publicised in magazines by specialist artists, of whom the most successful in the heyday of haute couture was René Gruau. His uncluttered draughtsmanship is instantly recognisable, consisting of sinuous lines rapidly executed with a limited but dramatic palette, often just white, black and red. “La femme Gruau” is charming, haughty and feline, inhabiting (with her impeccably dressed consort) a world of timeless elegance that owed much to the artist’s upbringing on Europe’s rivieras in the 1910’s.’

The present sheet may be related to a number of drawings of a similar motif by Gruau which were used as designs for advertisements for Le Rouge Baiser lipstick. Beginning in 1949, Gruau’s spare yet bold drawings of a woman’s face and lips became the iconic images of this famous brand of bright red lipstick, which was celebrated for being indelible or ‘kiss-proof’.

A very similar image by René Gruau was published as a colour lithographic poster in 1950.




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