René Vincent was a French illustrator, painter and poster designer. Prevalent in the 1920s-1930s, he worked in the popular Art Deco style. His illustrations helped define early 20th-century advertising, birthing countless imitators and admirers alike. Tintin creator, Hergé, cited René Vincent as an inspiration.
Vincent was born in Bordeaux, France in 1879, but moved to the capital when he was five-years-old. His father, Charles Vincent was a famous novelist and his older brother Henri Vincent-Anglade was a renowned painter.
Vicent enrolled in the prestigious Ècole des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. It was during this time he began to illustrate for books to earn some extra money. Discovering his aptitude for illustration, he decided to change to the graphic arts and ceramics courses.
He created perfect worlds with glamour fashionistas in luxury settings, partaking in jolly pastimes. His characters were vibrant and confident. Which in turn attracted many fashion and lifestyle periodicals such as La Vie Parisienne, Femina, Le Rire, and Fantasio. Interestingly, he went under a few pseudonyms, Rene Mael, Rageot and Dufour, allowing him to change style freely.
Vicent’s success granted him an opportunity to visit the United States, where he did some work for esteemed magazines Saturday Evening and Harper’s Bazaar. When he arrived back in France, he set up his own studio in Paris. He began illustrating advertisements for Bugatti, Peugeot, Michelin, and Shell Oil.
As a keen automobilist, Vicent was one of the first French citizen to have a driver’s license. Additionally he built a garage onto his house, to park his Bugatti. In the 20s owning a car was a symbol of success. As mentioned, Vicent’s character quite obviously belonged to this sort of wealthier social class. Thus the work suited Vicent remarkably well, and as such he produced stunning vehicle illustration that raised the bar. Furthermore, the women of these advertisements had androgynous styles, short hair, they were sassy and emancipated. He unknowingly defined the look of automotive women for years to come.
Towards the end on the 20s, largely due to the Great Depression, the luxury lifestyle was advertised less and purposely made more discreet. It halted the momentum that the creative and craft industry had built up and subsequently went into a decline. Another result was the increased use of photography over illustration, a repercussion which is felt to this day. Vicent died in 1936 at the age of 57. He left behind him pioneering achievements in the field of automotive advertising and a body of work that continues to inspire artist today.