Biography and current catalogue for
Maurice Millière (1871-1946)
Born at Le Havre in Normandy on 12th December 1871, Millière began his art education in his home town but soon transferred to l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied portraiture, life drawing and figure painting in the atelier of Leon Bonnat, whose pupils included Toulouse-Lautrec and Raoul Dufy. He also studied at l'Ecole des Arts Decoratifs. His skill as a draughtsman translated quickly into success as a cartoonist and illustrator and his brilliant interpretation of the "Modern Parisienne" soon became known as the "Petite femme de Millière". Skilfully using the technique of colour etching with drypoint, Millière created a modern woman who was coy, charming, independent and beautiful. Unconsciously erotic and quite adorable, his portrayals became known as “Femmes Poupées” (doll-women) and through them, he created the genre of boudoir art. His work was the prime inspiration for the popular "boudoir" painter and engraver, Louis Icart (1888-1950).
Millière contributed to fashionable magazines of the time, including "La Vie Parisienne" and "Fantasio". He also contributed 13 illustrations to the Cornet Société, of which he was a member, between 1907 and 1939, most of them of the same woman – Fanny, who featured originally as a coy teenager and gradually developed into a voluptuous young woman.
Millière’s success continued to grow after the Great War of 1914-18 and he became closely involved with the welfare of children injured or orphaned during the War. He was the treasurer for Charitable Works in Montmartre, where he lived. For this, he was created Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. Although his art became somewhat more restrained and less overtly erotic, he continued to work steadily and in various media. He also illustrated several books, including works by Gyp and Maurice Vaucaire. He travelled and worked in the French colonies, including Martinique.
Millière developed into an establishment artist and he exhibited widely, at commercial galleries and at the Paris Salon as well as the Salon des Humoristes and l’Exposition Coloniale, where he was a gold medallist in 1931, when he was 59.
Millière died at the age of 74, in 1946.