Robert Bonfils was born on October 15, 1886, in Paris. In 1903, he was a student at the Germain Pilon School, followed by the National School of Decorative Arts in 1905, and the School of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1909.

Since 1909, he has regularly exhibited at the Salon d'Automne and from 1912 at the Salon of Decorative Artists. In 1914, he participated in exhibitions in Brussels, showcasing decorative paintings and art objects. He also exhibited at the Tuileries and in numerous major painting and graphic art exhibitions in France and abroad.

As one of the organizers of the 1925 International Exhibition, he participated in nine classes and designed the poster. He also played a significant role in the 1937 exhibition. As a founding member of the Society of Original Binding, he exhibited in 1947 and 1953 at the National Library and in 1949 in Lyon. Since 1913, he has created theater set designs, designed printed and textured fabric patterns for Bianchini since 1915, and created tapestry cartoons in 1918.

His career as an engraver began in 1913. He illustrated around thirty limited-edition books and engraved more than 250 plates, which were cataloged by J.-B. Thomé in 1937. For thirty-two years, he taught at the École Estienne and the Technical College for Young Women on Rue Duperré. He also delivered lectures at the School of Decorative Arts. In 1939, he was assigned a mission to Canada but could only carry it out in 1945-46, continuing it in the USA through exhibitions and lectures. In 1947, he returned to Canada as a guest of the Quebec government.

Robert Bonfils' paintings and bindings can be found in numerous public and private collections in Paris, throughout France, and abroad. He was appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1926 and promoted to Officer in 1938. Bibliography: Jean Bersler, Robert Bonfils, Compagnie Française des Arts Graphiques, Paris 1946.

Robert Bonfils: Deux cents vues de Paris, Larousse, 1935; La gravure et le livre, Paris, 1937; Initiation à la gravure, Flammarion 1939; Art Graphique (in collaboration with R. Ranc), Inst. National des industries et arts graphiques, Paris 1950. Despite the abundance and diversity of his work, Robert Bonfils' oeuvre exhibits a unity rooted in his culture and sensitivity. As Louis Vauxcelles defined in 1933, his personality has continued to assert itself:

"Bonfils, to whom we owe bindings, fabrics, and prints of such ingenious taste, is also, and above all, a robust colorist who constructs broadly, balances his compositions with confidence, and works with a material that will age well."

Within the realm of painting, we can include tapestry cartoons, theater sets, as well as textile and porcelain designs, as logical affinities. Furthermore, activities centered around books, including illustration and binding, are intimately intertwined with Robert Bonfils' personality and name.

As a born illustrator, alongside his first exhibited canvas in 1913, he completed the illustrations for Clara d'Ellebeuse, which immediately revealed his literary tastes, his engraving skills, and his profound interest in books. This interest soon led him to conceive bindings that, in turn, assumed an important and meaningful place in his work. He explored graphic decor and harmonies of materials and colors.

Throughout Bonfils' career, books and graphic arts, from both artistic and educational perspectives, took precedence. His contributions ranged from collaborations with magazines such as Crapouillot and Feuillets d'art, to the revival of imagery, and especially to the illustration of luxury books.

While continuing his life as a painter and decorator, Robert Bonfils dedicated himself passionately to books through his teaching, the exhibitions he organized, the studies he published, and his personal work, thus contributing to their knowledge and prestige.


Sources : Mobilier et Decoration N° 1 de 1954