GEORGES VILLA (French / 1883-1965)

Georges Villa was one of the foremost Montmartre artists of his day, and was an active committee member of the artists’ dining club, the Cornet, decorating many of their menus with original lithographs. Villa was one of the few bold enough to depict the interior of the famous Lapin Agile nightclub; his pastel of this subject is in Le Musée du Vieux Montmartre. Georges Villa was born in Montmédy, Meuse, into a military family; his father was a general. Villa studied at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Among his teachers were Jules Lefebvre and Tony Robert-Fleury, but the teacher who had the most influence on Villa was Charles Léandre. Like his friend Jean-Gabriel Domergue, Georges Villa tried to keep the spirit of 1890s Montmartre alive in his art, but whereas Domergue looked to Toulouse-Lautrec, Villa looked to Léandre and Willette. Like all of these artists, Georges Villa was entranced by the art of the chansonniers of Montmartre, and tried to create a graphic equivalent of their songs. Villa’s major work as an artist is his 3-volume collection of Montmartre poems and songs, Montmartre à Chanté, issued in parts by Les Bibliophiles du Cornet (later Les Bibliophiles du Montmartre), for which Villa executed 139 etchings, many in colour. Georges Villa exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français and with the Association Française des Artistes Lithographes. Always a humorist, Villa contributed to various satirical journals, such as Le Rire, L’Assiette au Beurre, and La Vie Parisienne, both as an artist under his own name, and as a writer under the name G. V. Gévet. Villa also illustrated works by Anatole France, Balzac, Zola, and Louvet de Coupvray. Before WWI, Villa was twice invited to Russia by members of the Imperial Family to paint portraits of Russian officers; he was actually staying at the Imperial Court when war broke out. Lieutenant Villa was severely injured in Sept 1915, but seems to have resumed service as an aircraft Observer; sketches of the pioneers of early aviation provide one of the themes of his art. Georges Villa is not so well-remembered today as friends such as Louis Marcoussis, who embraced Cubism while Villa remained loyal to the outmoded style of Léandre. But within that style Georges Villa made a great contribution to the artistic heritage of the Montmartre that he loved. Villa was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, and died in 1965.

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Selected prints by GEORGES VILLA

Paris est à nous, 1934
Au temps du chat
noir, 1934
Mimi Pinson, 1947

View all available prints by GEORGES VILLA