Jean Gabriel Domergue and the invention of the pin-up

Jean Gabriel Domergue 1919

“Domergue was born in Bordeaux and studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1911, he was a winner of the Prix de Rome. From the 1920s onward he concentrated on portraits, and claimed to be “the inventor of the pin-up“. He also designed clothes for the couturier Paul Poiret. From 1955 until 1962 he was the curator of the Musée Jacquemart-André, organising exhibitions of the works of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Goya and others. Domergue was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. He died 16 November 1962 on a Paris sidewalk.”

That’s it.

It is with four skimpy lines that the life and work of Jean Gabriel Domergue are collectively remembered on Wikipedia and, subsequently, on the interweb. Yet, these four lines are an excellent example of the most exquisite kind of name-dropping Tourette syndrome.

He invented the Pin-Up, check. Designed high-fashion extravanganzas under Paul Poiret, check. Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, check. Dying on a sidewalk in Paris. Check.

He also invented the Dior woman, decades before Dior himself would get a century old look and call it, all of a sudden ‘New’. “Domergue invented a new type of woman : thin, airy, elegant, with a swanlike neck and wide seductive eyes which gaze upon the world with longing.”

And that’s without mentioning the first-class Parisian Camp he has been catering for his hungry audience. His superb sense of kitsch packs a punch one shall treasure forever: Long necks and marabou and makeup and curves and jewels and lurid lights and champagne and perfect coiffs.

The dream!

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COURTISANE ET FAUNESQUE Signed Jean Gabriel Domergue and dated -30

By The Lujon Magazine