27.5 X 47 INCHES


  • Papillon Gallery was one of the biggest dealers in Louis Icart, and in the early 1970s and was one of a handful of galleries that brought his work to world attention.

  • Papillon Gallery is still considered among the top experts on Louis Icart. Icart's three most well known images are "Illusion" the woman coming out of the cigarette,We don't think he ever did a painting of that, "Two Beauties" the woman and Chow dog, that painting is in a Los Angeles collection. And "Thoroughbreds" or in French "Pur-Sang."

  • This painting is titled "Pur-Sang." This is Icart's most dynamic and powerful painting. In doing research we found out it is a portrait of Icart's daughter Reine, riding a white stallion he owned named Rossinante. The etching was done in 1938; the painting was done before that.

  • This painting was purchased by women from an exhibition of Icart paintings in a restaurant on the Avenue de L'Opera in Paris in 1950. Louis Icart died in 1950 and Fanny organized a retrospective exhibition in that year. Apparently there were two paintings of women riding horses in that exhibition, a woman with dark hair on a brown horse and this one, the blonde. The woman bought the blonde, and kept it all these years. It came from her apartment just recently.

  • There will be a chapter on Icart in the book “Modern Figurative Paintings: The Paris Connection” being released later this year, this painting and his other masterpiece "Two Beauties" will be illustrated.

  • The painting is in its original frame. It is signed on the front, lower left, titled "Pur-sang" on the back, numbered, and initialed.

  • The painting has recently been cleaned by our restorer, removing 65 years of dirt and old varnish. It is painted on masonite, the background is painted using paint sparingly, the subject is heavy palette knife work, the effect makes the subject stand out and enhances the feeling on the movement.

  • It is interesting to note that this painting was kept in Icart’s private collection until after his death in 1950.

Louis Justin Laurent Icart

Louis Icart was born in 1888 in Toulouse, France. He began drawing at an early age. His move to Paris is believed to involve his aunt, she owned a fashionable millinery shop called Maison Valmont. While visiting the Icart family saw young Louis’ work, was very impressed, and brought him to the Paris.

Icart started his career in a studio that produced sexy postcards of the type the French were famous. His first job was to make copies of existing images, but he soon began designing original works. He successfully submitted his original works to magazines and was commissioned to design covers for La Critique Théâtrale.

Icart enjoyed rapid acceptance as an illustrator of catalogues for fashion houses, and in 1913 he was invited to exhibit at the Salon des Humoristes.
The tradition of fine art etchings of beautiful women became popular in France with artists like Paul-César Helleu and Manuel Robbe. Icart learned the technique of etching on copper and took the art to new heights. Combing his understanding of fashion, his obvious love of beautiful women, and understanding the commercial value of his work Icart became one of the most popular artists of his time.

Icart met his second wife Fanny in 1914; she became his most popular model. She was an artist in her own right and a ravishing blonde beauty. He was drafted into the military in World War One; he became a pilot and flew combat missions. He sketched constantly during the war and did many etchings with patriotic themes.

Icart is known worldwide for his etchings, it is believed he created more than 500 etchings in his lifetime. He also illustrated more than thirty books, many extremely erotic, and became an accomplished painter as well. He had several distinctive styles over the years, which are mostly expressed in his color palette. Many of his early paintings are moody, with use of browns, gold, and reds. As the times became brighter so did his paintings. In 1920 he exhibited at Galerie Simonson in Paris, and received mixed critical revues. Icart’s work was influenced by the Impressionists, like many other painters he took what he needed from them and used it in communicating his own vision of his times. His paintings are very personal and less commercial than his etchings; they were created for his own pleasure and not specifically intended to reach a large public audience. He exhibited frequently in Parisian galleries and several times in New York.

In 1922 Louis and Fanny Icart traveled to New York City for his first American exhibition. The exhibition was at Belmaison a gallery at John Wanamaker’s department store, and the exhibit later moved to Wanakamers in Philadelphia. He exhibited fifty oil paintings, and was met with mixed reviews.
In 1932 the Louis Icart Society, an organization created to market his etchings, exhibited a collection of paintings called “Les Visions Blanches.” They were shown at the Metropolitan Galleries in New York, many of the canvases were subjects similar to his popular etchings. Because Icart himself did not attend the exhibition it did not attract much publicity.

After the German invasion in 1940, Icart turned to a more serious subject. Her executed a series of paintings documenting the horrors of the occupation. This collection was called L’Exode, Icart like many of his countrymen fled Paris; these works chronicle that exodus. In the 1970s, when a renewed interest in Icart’s work was taking hold, a group of these paintings, along with several large earlier works were discovered in an attic storage facility of a Paris art academy, a sort of graveyard of forgotten art.

Icart captured the romance of Les Années Folles. His unabashed eroticism, and his incredible prolific nature gained him world renown and made him quite wealthy. From 1930 he lived in a magnificent house in Montmartre with a breathtaking view of Paris.

With the resurgence of interest in the Art Deco period, Icart’s works have enjoyed an unprecedented revival. There are several books in print on the artist. Louis Icart is one of the most recognized artists specifically identified with Art Deco, he is included in this collection in order to draw attention to his paintings, any collection of works of this period would be lacking without Icart’s inclusion.