Peter Brissaud was an Art Deco painter, illustrator, and printmaker. He was among the best Art Deco artists who have had worked with top-notch magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, book writers, and art patrons. His career began to take shape around the 1920’s when Art Deco was at its peak. He was particularly in-demand in the United States of America, England, and France where there had been a high demand for illustrators and print makers whose works are a means of advertisement.
Brissaud’s art is known for its elegance, elaborate styling, and vivid colors. It could also be a combination of multiple artistic influences such as Romanticism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Art Nouveau, most of which are similar to Tamara de Lempicka and Jean Dupas. Brissaud was a stencil specialist for various fashion magazines in Paris. His had often portrayed scenes of the affluent families and their lifestyles in his prints, giving the general audience an insight about the 20th century well-to-do Parisian culture.
Since Brissaud was a print maker, he created plenty of prints for book and magazine covers. Among these projects, his most important works included Paderewski’s Minuet for Steinway (1928), Hupmobile (1935), While They Dance (1937), Borden Cheese (1934), Chase Lighting (1934), Vogue (throughout 1920’s), Crisco (1931), and Old Taylor (1937).
Jean Pierre Brissaud was born in December 23rd 1885 in Paris, France. He grew up to a family of artists with Docteur Edouard Brissaud as his father. His brother Jacques Brissaud was a genre painter as well as his uncle Maurice Boutet de Monvel. His brother would serve as his earliest companion to arts and then his uncle would be his first art teacher.
Under the tutelage of de Monvel, Pierre Brissaud learned the fundamentals of painting and French art. It would seem that he received the best training available at the time for he made it to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris for his advanced schooling. He was then subjected under the care of Atelier Fernand Cormon, a master based in Montmarte in Paris. There, he met several other students who would become the corner stones of French Art Deco such as Charles Martin, Andre-Edouard Marty, and Georges Lepape.
At the workshop with Cormon’s guidance, Brissaud had worked on his interior decorating skills with focus on designing furniture and wallpaper. His earliest influences might be derived from the works van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Henri Matisse for these artists used to work in Montmarte; and thus, there is a high possibility that he was able to study their works closely.
During the early stages of his career, his brother Jacques was quickly becoming a notable genre painter and portraitist in his own right. Meanwhile, his uncle was having a solid career in making illustrations for fable books of La Fontaine and the lives of French heroes and heroines like Joan of Arc. His first cousin, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, was one of the highly celebrated painters at the time. Alternately Pierre Brissaud’s career was still in its infancy.
In 1907 Brissaud’s time would come, as he was invited to exhibit his stencil prints and watercolor paintings at the Salon. This gave him the springboard that he needed to move on with his career steadily receiving some works from magazines like Femina and The Happy Life. He entered another workshop where he’d met Lepape and Marty but little did he know that these artists would rule the “Roaring Twenties” through their prints for La Gazette du Bon Ton magazine, a time when Paris was emerging as the melting pot for fashion, glam, modern art, bohemian lifestyle, among many other forms of culture clash.
During the 1920’s, Pierre Brissaud found himself working for various fashion magazines such as Vogue, La Gazette du Bon Ton, Ladies Home Journal, Fortune, House and Garden, and Vanity Fair. His art became focused on pochoir, also known as stencil prints, through which medium he illustrated realistic scenes of affluent men and women. His work was characterized by its vivid coloring, stylized figures, and sophistication. In 1923 he was to become one of the top 8 illustrators for French Vogue.
Fashion juggernaut, Lucien Vogel, was instrumental in the success of Brissaud’s career. The artist worked for him for several years under La Gazette de la Mode et du Bon Ton. Vogel had been responsible for publishing Brissaud’s prints and illustrations for the said magazine, most of which which ended up successfully. Consequently, he was able to secure some more commissions by various fashion houses such as Doucet, Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, and Cheruit, too. This solidified his reputation in the small yet lucrative industry, and in 1925, when Vogue acquired La Gazette du Bon Ton, Brissaud was one of the artists who was retained as its illustrator.
From the mid-1920 to the early 1930’s, Pierre Brissaud was known for his stencil prints meant for magazine covers and advertising. His figures essentially became the “face” of those abovementioned fashion house. He found prestige through this work that his achievements became comparable to those of Lepape, Brunelleschi, Charles Martin, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, Halouze, George Barbier, and Andre Marty.
Not only did Brissaud created prints and posters for fashion houses, but he also did book illustrations for several authors. His illustrations appeared in Manon Lescaut, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Madame Bovary, and Memoires de Saint-Simon. Additionally, his posters appeared in the ads of Cadillac, Old Taylor Bourbon, Crisco, Hupmobile, etc.
During the years Brissaud had been working for those fashion houses and novelists, his art deco style is thought to be influenced by Deveria, a Romantic artist. The English painter Randolph Caldecott would have a huge influence on him, too, especially Caldecott’s bolded black line technique.
Brissaud’s etching and watercolor was more controlled and looked very academic, a culmination of the trainings he received from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This style greatly benefited him in terms of booking all-important projects and have his name placed on the print as the illustrator. One of the greatest improvements he had was when he developed a unique aesthetic for his wood stencils. For example, in Daudet Tales Monday Devambez 1928, his treatment of light and color gave an intimate scene between the figures in the etching, especially the light against the foliage and then the foliage casting shadow upon the figures. The lighthearted, autumnal atmosphere and the figures in close proximity to each other rendered a unique depiction of French women and a tradesman in their natural behavior.
In the 1930’s, Pierre Brissaud had been traveling to and fro Paris-New York. He would still be working for Vogue Magazine at the time. It was a project that contracted a group of artists, a collaboration in which Brissaud’s contributions would be known for. He contributed stylish and elegant covers illustrating women in their most elegant attire ranging from a long scarf, a raffled dress, a short brimmed hat, pointed shoes, and an oversized coat.
After the Second World War, Brissaud’s life had been poorly documented. Even his death seems to be unknown to the public knowledge. Nevertheless, he made an important contribution to the development of comic-style illustrations such as those he drew for The Misfortunes of Sophie Segur (1923). Pierre Brissaud died on 1964. His influence would be seen in the works of Jean Dulac.