The Parisian illustrator, painter and writer André Dignimont was for more than four decades one of the best-known and prolific French artists, illustrating well over a hundred books. The son of a wine merchant, he studied at L’Oratoire de Jésus et de Marie in Juilly before spending time learning English at Craven College at Beckenham in the south of England. On his return to France in 1911 he joined the army, which culminated in four years of war service. He then studied art with Tony Robert-Fleury at the Académie Julian.

Femme assise (Seated Woman), 1925

Solidly installed in Montmartre, he led the joyful life of the apprentice painters, or rapins as they called themselves, in a circle which included Jean-Gabriel Domergue, Roger de la Fresnaye, Louis Marcoussis, Robert Lotiron and André Warnod. Book illustration and theatre design led to friendships with Colette, Francis Carco and Pierre Mac Orlan. In 1927 he left Montmartre to settle permanently in the rue Boutarel on the Île Saint-Louis, where, passionate about the local fleamarket, he created a museum of unusual objects.

After a long and rewarding life as a single man, in March 1939, just after his 48th birthday, Dignimont married Lucienne Fernande Gérard (1905–1981). It was around the same time that he began to take a serious interest in the French landscape, encouraged by André Dunoyer de Segonzac in Paris, Maurice Boy at Ligugé in Poitou, Jules Cavaillès in Yonne, Equemauville near Honfleur with Henri Jeanson, at Betty de Mauduit’s artistic castle retreat at Paimpol, and above all in Saint-Tropez with his close friend Colette.

As well as books, André Dignimont produced many illustrations for magazines and newspapers including Le Rire, Demain, Le Crapouillot, Le Sourire, Femina, La Gazette du Bon Ton, La Guirlande, Comœdia and Flirt. A complete list of the books he illustrated, along with details of his involvement in theatre, cinema and exhibitions, can be found in his French Wikipédia page here.

Example illustration