Montmartre - Place du Tertre in winter
Read his short biography (pop-up: mouse-click name-title above). George Gremillet was a prolific etcher and Paris shipowner. Although he ran his iconic book shop “Le Singe qui lit” in this most famous of all Paris squares for some 40 years he is not mentioned in any of the artist lexicons, nor has he an entrance in Wikipedia. Much of his prints are of “bread and butter”, tourist quality but among the rubble gems and exceptionally nice prints can be found. This hand coloured example was recently found in a local junk shop. I think it is very charming, appealing and attractive. I even like the modest hand colouring. He must have known Eugène Vedèr’s examples and of course the one by August Delâtre who had his famous studio around the corner.
Gremillet, George (1893 - 1971)
Paris etcher and water colour painter. Probably a self-taught, “bread and butter” etcher. Known for his (small format) but nice etchings of Paris in particular of Montmartre where he ran for over 40 years a renowned “magazin” at no. 4-6: the famous “Au Singe qui lit” (The monkey that reads) bookstore, since the late 1920s. It started in what is now known he famous bar-restaurant “Au Cadet de Gascogne” at Place du Tertre-Rue Norvins while this building is known to have been Montmartre’s first city-hall (“mairie”) since the French Revolution. His shop obviously was moved (adjacent, to the left building) when the restaurant expanded.
A “Cadet de Gascogne” was a military apprentice to become a lower officer recruited from the ranks of impoverished French nobility (pedigree but no money). The character was made immortal by Alexandre Dumas’ (1802-1870) figure of d’Artagnan in his 1844 novel “Les Trois Mousquetaires”.
His shop is known to have sold books (“librarie”), etchings (“gravures”), art (“objets d’art”) and tobacco. It was probably also the address of his commercial postcard publishing house “Librarie Gremillet - Tabac”.
Besides depicted in several other prints etched by Gremillet himself this iconic location was ofcourse depicted in countless paintings, etchings and photo’s. Etcher Eugène Delâtre (1864-1938) lived and worked around the corner. It was also photographed by famous Paris street journalist-photographer and chronicler Robert Doisneau (1912-1994).
Besides, Gremillet will have probably sold artist equipment (paint, canvas, brushes etc.) to the hoards of painters in Montmartre and of course his own production of Paris view “eau fortes”, exhibited and displayed conspicuously outside on the pavement, to visiting tourists.
He also published his etchings as a folio: “La Cité” holding a collection of his prints. After his death his firm was officially strikken from the commercial records in 1971 and sold to a new owner. After a century “le singe qui lit” is still in existence.
Opposite his shop was an iconic Morris advertising column which was painted by Italian painter Carlo Cherubini (1897-1978). It must have been removed since, because it is no longer there.
George Gremillet is not mentioned in Benefit artist lexicon nor in any other source an not even in Wikipedia.
Gremillet is a well known Champagne house in province Vosges where also lies the origin of the Gremillet family name.