Georges Villa Biography

Georges Villa




Elie Georges Marie Villa was born in Montmédy, the Meuse, Lorraine, France on January 24, 1883. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais. Vila was a prolific painter, engraver, lithographer, poster designer, and illustrator of political and sports themes for some of the most prominent newspapers and magazines of his time: Artes et Sports, l’ Assiette au Beurre,  Comedia Illustre, etc. He was also a well-known portrait artist whose subjects included aviation, fencing, gastronomy, and aristocratic ladies of the 18th century. Between 1944 and 1946 he did illustrations of Montmartre songs including “Avec les lorettes, Mimi Pinson et Pierrot.”  He gained fame as a portraitist and was invited to Russia by the uncle of Tzar Nicolas II to do portraits of Russian officers. It is probably here where he met General Dimitri d'Osnobichine, who was also an artist and whose estate these works are from. In 1908 Villa accompanied a Russian archaeological expedition to Egypt.

Back in France he began a new career as an illustrator doing mainly cartoons. He also illustrated books including works by Anatole France, Theophile Gautier, Edgar Allen Poe and Louys Pierre. In the 1920’s Villa was part of the Parisian Année Folles (Crazy Years) and became known for his caricatures and portraits as well as his erotic drawings using charcoal and pastel. Many of Villa’s outstanding illustrations can be found in limited edition collectors’ books, including 12 erotic lithographs to accompany the poetry of Edmond Haraucourt, Poemes hysteriques, an eroticized parody of the poems of Victor Hugo. Georges Villa cut his own copper and stone plates for his engravings. Villa illustrated 26 menus between 1925 and 1964 and painted a “masterpiece” Pierrot postcard for Wague in 1930.

He was a member of Les Humoristes as well as a Knight of the Legion of Honor. In 1929, Georges Villa and Roger Braun started the Bibliophiles of Cornet, an appendage of the Cornet Society. Villa remained a Cornet Society member until his death. He authored his own novel, Special Infirmiry, published in 1953.

Georges Villa died in Paris on November 19, 1965.