Picture Perfect Pochoir

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>I was recently in Chicago to speak at The Randolph Street Antique Market and of course that meant that I was able to shop the vendors as well!  Because I am constantly shopping flea markets all over the world, I get excited when I see items that are unfamiliar to me. These are moments that I can learn from dealers and expand my knowledge of antiques. While perusing the Randolph Street Antique Market, I spotted a stall filled with lovely framed pictures of lovely ladies from the early 20th century. While admiring these beauties, the dealer approached me and shared more information— and that is what I want to share with you today!

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

It turns out that these illustrations are called pochoir.  In French, pochoir means to stencil.” While I’ve seen these pieces frequently in France I had no clue this is what they were called!  This technique was introduced to commercial publishing in France in the late 1800’s and was developed into an exquisite art form. The artist would use a plethora of tools; anywhere from 20 to 250 stencils along with numerous paint colors, each requiring their own brush or sponge to be applied.

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

Pochoir was most popular from 1910 to 1930 in Paris, being featured in luxury magazines such as la Vie Heureuse and Gazette du Bon Ton. These publications appealed to the upper class, providing high fashion plates and articles on all aspects of life for the elite. The paper used to print these magazines was of the utmost quality allowing the prints to be detailed and beautiful. In fact, many of of the prints were enhanced with genuine gold and silver to give them an ultra-luxe feel. Because these magazines weren’t printed for the masses, great expense was made and much time was taken to create the ultimate in print publications.

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

The most famous fashion illustrators of the time, including George Barbier, Leon Bakst and Pierre Brissard, would draw the pochoirs of the most talented fashion designers such as Paul Poiret, Jean Patou and Vionnet.

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

Readers would thumb through a pochoir-illustrated book and immediately be struck by the effects of lush, vibrant colors and bold geometric shapes. Bright oils and watercolors seem to come alive on the page in an almost three-dimensional experience. 90 years later, these elegant drawings still hold their appeal as works of art. Much thanks to Suzanne Snow of Susie’s for educating me on these wonderful pieces!

The Antiques Diva®