Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Laurent de Brunhoff 
Jean de Brunhoff

December 4 to January 17, 2009
Reception: Saturday, December 6
4 - 6 pm

Please join us to celebrate The Art of Babar on Saturday, December 6 from 4 to 6pm. Laurent de Brunhoff will be in attendance and we will have pre-signed Babar books available for sale.

Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to present The Art of Babar, an exhibition of original watercolors, drawings, and prints for the Babar books by Laurent and Jean de Brunhoff. This exhibition features a rare selection of watercolors by Jean de Brunhoff seldom seen on the market, available for sale for the first time. These exquisite illustrations are for Jean's fourth book, The ABC of Babar (1934), originally published in French. Laurent's earliest works in this exhibition come from his second book, Babar's Picnic (1949), and are shown alongside his father Jean's watercolors. Both Jean and Laurent were originally trained as fine artists, as is evident in their watercolors. These early works by Laurent resemble Jean's, but also provide examples of both artists' distinct working methods and styles.

Published illustrations by Laurent de Brunhoff from the past six decades will be on view, including works from Babar's Birthday Surprise (1970), Babar's Mystery (1978), and Babar's Museum of Art (2003). Watercolor collages on photographic backgrounds for his most recent book, Babar's USA (2008) will be exhibited in this exhibition for the first time.

Babar is one of a handful of children's book characters that has become a timeless classic with universal appeal. For more than two decades, Mary Ryan Gallery has been exhibiting the work of Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff and has been instrumental in elevating classic children's book illustration to the realm of fine art. The field of collecting children's illustration is still in its infancy and it is an exciting time to see many museums interested in collecting and exhibiting such works. It is particularly gratifying to see Drawing Babar, Early Drafts and Watercolors at the Morgan Library and Museum (September 19 to January 4, 2009), which features the first manuscripts by Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff, both recently acquired by the Museum.

For more information please contact Jordan Karney at 212.397.0669 or

Babar books have been published in 17 languages and have been in continuous print since 1931. The first seven Babar books were written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. In 1946, nine years after Jean's untimely death from tuberculosis in 1937, his son Laurent wrote and illustrated his first Babar book at the age of 19. Since then, Laurent has completed nearly 40 Babar books. Mary Ryan Gallery has been the exclusive representative for the art of Laurent de Brunhoff and the estate of Jean de Brunhoff since 1986.