Gaston Noury
Moulin Rouge and Dance Hall Costume Designs, c. 1909-1910

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Gaston Noury (b. 1866)
Cabaret and Dance Hall Costume Designs
Paris: c. 1909-1910
Pencil and watercolor on stiff card, some with gilt, silver or sparkle highlights
12 x 9 inches average approximate size
$450 to $750 each

Ten original designs of costumed female performers in cabarets and dance halls, most likely created as working costume designs since a few have fabric and accessory notes written on them.  Five of them are specifically labeled for performances at the famous Moulin Rouge and Ambassadeurs venues in the Montmartre district of Paris, home to a thriving bohemian nightlife scene famously documented by the artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and others.  Most of the drawings are dated 1910.  The costumes themselves combine innocence and sexuality -- girlishly feminine floral motifs and fabrics slyly subverted with sexy cutouts showing off legs, midriff, cleavage and occasionally bare breasts.  The drawing style combines delicate pencil lines and light watercolor washes to depict women with stylized, smiling faces and tiny hands and feet.  All but one are signed on the front, and many have written notes on the back giving titles and dates.

Gaston Noury was a French painter, illustrator, cartoonist and theatrical costume designer, working in Le Havre and Paris.  From at least the 1890s on, he produced artwork for posters, books and postcards.  These works covered a wide range of subject matter, including illustrated songbooks, genre scenes and fashion plates.  Two of his costume maquettes are in the collection of the Christian Dior Museum in France.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, fading, wear, soiling, soft creases, marks, smudges.  Some with linen tape or linen tape residue in the side margin, can be matted out.  Some with minor indentations or hard creases.  Some with masking tape hinge backside, top margin, apparently stable. Some signatures fairly faded. All condition issues typical for working costume designs. 

References:

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs.  France: Librairie Gründ, 1966.   Vol. 6, p. 389.

"Biographies of the Postcard Artists."  Vintage Postcards.com.  http://www.vintagepostcards.com/postcardartistsbiographies.htm (11 August 2006).

"Les Collections."  Musée Christian Dior.   2005.  http://museechristiandior.perso.orange.fr/collections-musee-dior6.html (11 August 2006).

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