Germaine de COSTER


Germaine de Coster was born in Paris on September 1, 1895. Gifted in drawing from a young age, she entered the National School of Decorative Arts in 1912. She worked with Genuys, Follot, and Chadel, who would become her master in engraving. While specializing in Graphic Arts, Germaine de Coster also became interested in textiles, theater decor, and costumes (with a stage at the Vieux-Colombier, alongside Copeau and Jouvet).

In 1921, she was appointed as a decoration professor in the professional schools of the City of Paris, and since 1931, at the Technical College of Applied Arts on Rue Duperré. She continued her work as an engraver and decorator in parallel. Since 1936, she has been a member of the Society of Decorative Artists, where she was introduced by René Gabriel and Paul Bonet, and regularly participates in its exhibitions with bindings executed by Hélène Dumas, always signed De Coster-Dumas.

She received a gold plaque from the Society of Encouragement for Art and Industry and organized an artistic information center there in 1954. In 1949, G. de Coster exhibited in Lyon with the Society of Original Binding, and was awarded the prize in 1951. She has been a member of this society of artists and bibliophiles since then, participating in its exhibitions at the National Library. Furthermore, she takes part in all major events in France and abroad dedicated to Graphic Arts and Decorative Art. A member of the Committee of the Society of Decorative Artists, where she served as secretary and vice-president, Germaine de Coster has been a Knight of the Legion of Honor since 1946.

As an engraver, we do not need to highlight her significant work here. Germaine de Coster, who is a member of the Society of Painters-Engravers, logically became attracted to the different constructive elements of the Book, particularly its binding. From her early bindings presented at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs and the 1937 International Exhibition, to the "Pantagruel" by Derain, for which she was entrusted with the binding to be offered to the National Library according to the regulations of the Society of Original Binding, Germaine de Coster's personality has continuously asserted itself. With her more recent models for books she has conceived and illustrated, such as "27 bêtes pas si bêtes" and "Buffon," her character takes on a rather unique and resolutely liberated quality, free from tradition.

Although Germaine de Coster states that the means of expression she almost exclusively uses—tracing irons with straight lines, emanating sparks, and sudden encounters at acute angles—influenced her return to the burin, it is as an engraver that she arranges decorations that are often born from a keen observation of nature and transposed with poetic fantasy. Her decorations rarely cover the entire leather, with rare and unobtrusive colorations, reserving large silent areas around the freely centered motif.

It should be added that her bindings, executed with impeccable mastery by Hélène Dumas, present, in addition to their architectural and decorative qualities, the appeal of rare distinction.



Sources : Mobilier et Decoration N° 1 Fevrier 1955