Theatre and music hall drawings

1920 to 1940

The collection of the Piollet family comprises around 3,000 theatre and music hall drawings from the years 1920 to 1940. It is considered one of the most important collections in Europe. The Golden Twenties represent a turning point between the end of Art Nouveau and the beginning of Art Déco. It is in this transition that most of the drawings in the Piollet Collection belong – a masterful collection of the art of that time.

Numismatics expert Luce Gavelle-Piollet and her husband, artist Michel Piollet, acquired the drawings in the mid-fifties, following the demolition of the workshop of Max Weldy (a famous pre-war set builder and costume-maker), where they had been kept. The fact that these sketches were directly salvaged from this workshop is the guarantee of their authenticity. Apart from a few members of the Piollet family, no one else has had access to them. No forgery, nor any other copy posterior to their creation, can have been made.

Among the sixty or so artists that can be found in the collection, one can cite Erté (considered the father of Art Déco), George Barbier, Charles Gesmar (Mistinguett’s principal costume designer), René Ranson, Charles Bétout (Comédie Française), Freddy Wittop, Dany, Louis Curti, ZIG, José de Zamora, Jenny Carré, Alexandre Zinoview…

Thanks to confident, imaginative, brilliant pencil strokes – sometimes full of humour or caricature, and always in a very personal style – they succeeded in producing a veritable image of that era, between grandeur and lightness, madness and reason. When one is aware that for a year of revues Max Weldy’s house alone provided about one and a half million costumes, one understands the importance he needed to attach to recruiting a group of equally talented designers. Preserved by the Piollet family, this collection remains a valuable testimony of those years when shows concurrently belonged to enchantment, to dreams, and to purely sincere and spontaneous art.

Reluctant to part from such works, the Piollet family decided to have some of them reproduced in order to enable their circulation. These reproductions are lithographic interpretations, which fully respect the quality of the original. In order to preserve the exceptional nature of this collection, the prints of these reproductions are limited to between 50 and 100 copies, depending on the original. They are available in our shop.

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