Louis Icart (1888-1950)
AKA: Louis Justin Laurent Icart
Born: 1888; Toulouse
Died: December 20, 1950; Itteville
Biography of Louis Icart
Louis Icart was the first son of Jean and Elisabeth Icart and was officially named Louis Justin Laurent Icart. He was a rambunctious, vocal infant and Jean Icart hoped that such vitality would last in the difficult worlds of business and banking. Icart was small in stature — not at all like his father who was quite tall.
He lived in the southern French city of Toulouse where he was rapidly introduced to the pleasures of the fine arts. Louis was introduced to the theatre when he was selected to do small parts in school plays. He dreamed of becoming a star performer. Through his love of the theatre, he developed a taste for all the arts. The city itself was rich in culture and history. The museums and galleries introduced him to the visual and performing arts. He enjoyed painting. Though it offered a pleasant diversion, it was not as strong as the urge to act on stage.
Later in years, he had a military obligation and was drafted into the French Infantry. His experience with the military was unpleasant and unsatisfying, and he anxiously awaited his return to civilian life. He worked for a post card company and had a critical development as an artist. Icart’s decision to become an artist did not restrict him to oil painting. He met Leon Pavi at a social gathering, who was the editor of La Critique Theatrale, a monthly magazine devoted to the criticism and behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Paris theatre. It was the female form that captivated Icart and his desire to clothe it in the trappings of his fancy.
He worked with the couturiers with major fashion shows in Paris. He quickly learned the basics of designing gowns, dresses and miscellaneous essentials of the femine wardrobe. There was a transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries. Women wanted clothes that clung to their bodies rather than bellowing out. The new look was so appealing that most fashion houses adapted it according to their own tastes. Icart also fell into step with the illustration of the new trend.
In 1914, Icart met a magical, effervescent eighteen-year-old named Fanny Volmers, who was to change the course of his life. He was captivated by her beauty and she became his model for quite a number of his etchings. Fanny was defiantly his inspiration. Icart and Fanny had only one child, a girl, who they named Reine, meaning queen. Some of his etchings were exported to the United States and England. The 1920’s were devoted to producing etchings, which the United States markets quickly devoured. In the 1930’s, he turned his artistic talents to poetry. After the war, Hollywood collectors discovered the master of Art Deco and made it nearly impossible for him to keep up with the demand. The demand never waned and his art continues to grace the walls of collectors all over the world.
On December 20, 1950, Louis Icart died quietly in his sleep at his Montmartre home. He was buried not far from the Itteville home he loved so much. Fanny realized that the years they spent together were magical, exciting years. The memory of their happiness together sustained her until her death. She is buried in her family tomb in Bagneaux.
There was the artist’s fine elegance, the fine movement of an outstretched hands, the display of a provocative thigh, a well-drawn glove or shoe, all these elements added charm to the delightful young women in his etchings. The Icart girl, whether portrayed as a countess or a flapper, set the theme for an era. Whether she was smoking a cigarette, driving a car, or revealing a total new look in clothing, his model typed the popular styles of the time. It was Icart who originated the famous saying: “Come up and see my etchings some time”. He was indeed the master etcher who knew how to please the masses with his light and delightful subjects.