Jean-Gabriel Domergue was born in Bordeaux in 1889. As a talented and precocious young painter, Domergue was already exhibiting works at seventeen for the Salon Des Artistes Français in Paris. In 1913, he was awarded the prestigious Second Prize of Rome, later winning the gold medal in the 1920 show. Although initially trained in landscape painting, by the 1920’s Domergue had developed a new painterly subject, the ‘Parisian Lady’, for which he is now most celebrated.
Domergue painted over 3000 portraits during his lifetime, from nude portrayals of fashionable actresses and young dancers to prized aristocratic sitters, such as Liane de Pougy and Nadine, the Baroness of Rothschild. Clearly inspired by Toulouse Lautrec and his tutor, Giovanni Boldini, Domergue’s women are immediately recognisable with their lithe, elegant bodies, texture of movement and brilliance of colour. Often painted in a state of undress and turned away from the viewer, Domergue wasable to challenge the immediate voyeurism of his models by turning private moments into public expressions of gaiety and delight.
Domergue not only transformed the representation of women in paint, but held an important role in the evolution of women’s fashion in France from the 1930’s onwards, designing dresses and hats for numerous famous couturiers including Paul Poiret and Henry Marque.
Domergue was made Knight of the Legion of Honour and a Fellow of the French Academy of Fine Arts.