- Title: L'Arbre de Mai
- Author: Gazette du Bon Ton
- Date: 1914
- Medium: Pochoir print
- Condition: Very Good Plus - light age toning, issued center fold, discoloration in areas
- Inches: 13 1/2 x 8 [Image]
- Centimeters: 34.29 x 20.32 [Image]
- Product ID: 316012
L'Arbre de Mai
Robes simples pour l'été
Gazette du Bon Ton. — No. 5. Mai 1914. — Pl. 42
"The Tree of May
Simple dresses for the summer
Gazette du Bon Ton. — No. 5. May 1914. — Pl. 42"
Rare double-page image from the Gazette du Bon Ton (roughly “The Journal of Good Taste”), a magazine which catered to Parisian high society through its sumptuous depictions of luxury French fashion. This exclusive publication, which charged today’s equivalent of over $400 per yearly subscription, ran from 1912-1925, breaking between 1915 and 1920 due to the onset of World War I.
Each issue’s ten color plates showcased the designs of leading French fashion houses such as Worth, Beer, Poiret, and Dœuillet. The magazine’s whimsical illustrations featured real articles of clothing which would have been available for purchase, painting a picture of high-class leisure in both pre- and post-War France. At times, the Gazette featured members of the Parisian elite as its models, and it often included fictitious designs created by the foremost commercial illustrators of the day. Though the magazine’s images undoubtedly remained its centerpiece, its editors also printed essays on fashion by prominent writers and critics, attempting to elevate fashion as an artform to rival the various fine art disciplines.
The technique used to create these prints, known as pochoir [po-SHWAR, French for "stencil"], flourished from its inception in the late-nineteenth century into the early decades of the twentieth. Though the Gazette’s magazine format inherently created multiples of each of its illustrations, pochoir’s meticulous process of hand-coloring lent each print its own luxe textures and unique dimensionality. To achieve this effect, a colorist would apply different inks, watercolors, or gouaches onto an uncolored print through pre-cut stencils. Painting each hue through the appropriate stencil, the colorist would gradually layer areas of color until the image was complete. The painstaking detail behind these captivating images — not to mention all that went into creating the fashions which inspired them — makes them true works of art.