Skip to content

George Barbier

Art Deco designs
George Barbier Shapero Rare Books

George Barbier (1882-1932) was the supreme decorative designer of Art Deco, whose art centred on the human figure, displayed in a thousand different settings and costumes. He had the faculty, as Valéry wrote, of embodying myth through images in such a way that workers in mere words could only look on in awe.

George Barbier Shapero Rare Books

The early 20th century was a time of dramatic change in fashion. The heavy clothes and cumbersome morality of the Victorians was cast off with the dawn of a new century. By 1913 fashionable silhouettes were softer and more fluid than before, and it was in this year that Lucien Vogel founded the Gazette du Bon Ton, recording the latest developments in fashion, with the aim of elevating it to an art form, to rank alongside painting, sculpture and music.

From the start, the Gazette strove to create an elitist image, distinguishing itself from larger and more mainstream periodicals like Vogue and Harper's. Even the title was derived from the French concept of bon ton, or timeless good taste. With that in mind, Vogel signed an exclusive contract with seven of Paris’ top couture houses, and included some of the greatest artists and illustrators of its day, including George Barbier.

Although not so large or on such a grand scale as Gazette de Bon Ton, Journal des Dames et des Modes is also one of the most beautiful of the Art Deco fashion periodicals. The plates are exquisitely printed.

Perhaps less deliberately, it also documents the transition from the end of the Belle Époque to a radically different period in world history. The journal ceased publication in August 1914 due to the outbreak of the First World War.

From 1918 to 1921 Barbier contributed to the celebrated periodical La Guirlande des Mois, a fine complete set of which we have in stock at present.  Although published in a small format due to wartime austerity, it is nevertheless extremely luxurious. In addition to the pochoir illustrations, Barbier contributed articles on such topics as the Ballets Russes, epigrams, opera, and the pleasures of love.

Personnages de Comédie. is one of the most important works by Barbier, rivalled only by Le bonheur du jourAlbert Flament’s text of 1914 is a diffuse meditation, half-waking and half-dreaming, which takes as its point of departure the great roles of world theatre. Barbier’s vignettes are magnificent decorative compositions.

Vies Imaginaires is a collection of 22 semi-biographical short stories about historical figures, incorporating myth and fantasy with historical facts.

Of particular note are Clodia accompanying her brother to a Roman brothel; and Pocahontas meeting Captain John Smith.
Discover more: Fashion and Costume.
Previous article Time Travel
Next article Collecting James Bond First Editions

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Enjoy reading our blog?

Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know!

About Us

About Us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in London, specialising in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper, with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, modern firsts, rare children’s books, guidebooks, Hebraica & Judaica, Eastern European, and Islamica

Shop online and enjoy free international shipping now.


read more

Your cart is empty

Continue shopping