Rene Gruau

One of my favorite artists is Rene Gruau. He could depict a glamorous scene with just a few simple penstrokes. You could almost call his drawings 'high calligraphy' expanding on the victorian artform. Born in Rimini, Italy on February 4th 1909 to an aristroctratic father and legendary french beauty mother -he was christened Renato Conte de Savagli-Ricardelli. He had to support his mother after his father left them at age 15 and so abandoned his given name and took his mother's last name, Gruau as an act of revenge ( and also because it was shorter! ). Early in his career he came upon what would become a signature when in signing a piece a huge ink blot escaped his pen onto a finished drawing! He worked with it and called it his lucky star and kept it his entire life.

After a brief stint in fashion design in London in the 1930's -he soon started his career as a fashion illustrator in Paris for all the major magazines ( back when photography wasn't the staple it has become today ). He befriended Dior and actually encouraged him to start his own fashion house in 1947. He later became the primary illustrator for Dior and would do the illustrations for their perfume campaigns until the early 90s! After fashion magazines moved to photography for their fashion spreads, Gruau found his niche market in advertising -creating glamorous drawings that would leave readers lusting after the products they depicted!

Gruau passed away on March 31, in 2004 at the age of 95. While there have been several expositions of his work and many of his original drawings hang in prestigious museums, there is little published about his life or his work and he's not even on Wikipedia!!

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