Georges Hamel Artist…

Posted: December 2, 2015 in Fotos, Obscurities
Tags: , , ,


One of the greatest poster artists of all time, ‘Geo Ham’ was born in Laval, France to wealthy parents on 18 September 1900. Georges Hamel showed great artistic skills from childhood. Encouraged by his father, whose enterprises included postcard publishing, he initially painted Mayenne countryside landscapes. Other inspirations included a biplane flown overhead by a local politician tossing leaflets below and a 1913 motor race in Laval. Soon all he wanted to do was to sketch and paint these motorised  devices.

ham plane

Armed with advice from painter and playwright Eugene Morand, at 17 he moved to Paris and enrolled at Art Deco, the National School of Decorative Arts.

At 20 he drew his first cover for Omnia, a prestigious French car magazine. By 23 he was receiving regular commissions and into the 1930s was regarded as one of the finest painters of cars and aeroplanes, his clientele included Amilcar, Rolls-Royce, Talbot, Delahaye and Chenard et Walker. He was engaged by most race organisers, including the ACO, and was recognised as an official painter of French aviation by Aeropostale in 1931.

In 1935 he went to Ethiopia to cover the Second Italo-Ethiopian War for L’Illustration, that yaer “he was found with General Franco’s troops in Spain.”

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Villeneuve/Hamel Derby L8, Le Mans 1934 (Jorge Curvelo)

Hamel with his September 1927 built, Bugatti T40 ‘Sport Modifiee’ #40576. To Ernest Friderich 4/1928-G M de Marsilan-then Hamel in 11/1928 for a ‘prix couvreur’ of Frs 15000 (H Conway Collection)

He enjoyed competing when not in his studio, often racing or acting as mechanic for gentleman racer Michel Dore. With him, he contested the Toul-Nancy and Arpajon events at Aisne and Picardy before performing on a larger stage at Le Mans in 1934. He co-drove a French, front wheel drive, 2-litre V8 Derby L8 owned by Louis Villeneuve. Fuel feed problems forced withdrawal of the car on lap 44, the race was won by the Luigi Chinetti/Philippe Etancelin Alfa Romeo 8C2300.

His work continued post-war, but with the advent of greater photographic content in newspapers his business declined. He sold his Bugatti Type 40 (#40576) and “made a reputation as a seducer with Paul Morand,” a writer, diplomat and academic.

In a sad end to a life lived full, he died in June 1972 at the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris, with another friend, Jean-Adrien Mercier at his side. He passed without an heir, forgotten. Only 19 people attended his funeral with his artworks “dispersed or sold.”

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Crop of ‘Prix de Paris’ poster, Montlhery 1958 (Geo Ham)


Wikipedia, Jorge Curvelo, Bob King, Julien Dub, Kees Jansen


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  1. He made a lot for the Brand Benjamin inkl an full catalog in 1923 , Ads and also 3 Cover for the Moto Revue.

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