When considering the European coach-built cars launched during the Art Deco era, you’ll no doubt agree that the elaborate hood ornaments – in their countless shapes and sizes – are one of the first design aspects that spring to mind. Fast-forward to today and the granddaughter of one of period’s most renowned artists, François Bazin, has produced a series of bronzes in his memory.
During World War I, Julie Bazin’s grandfather François was put in the cockpit of Hispano-Suiza-powered fighter planes, and was later commissioned to design the French marque’s famous stork bonnet ornament. In the following years he went on to create many other impressive mascots for the likes of Citroën, Isotta Fraschini, and La Licorne, inspired by his various travels across the world.
Motivated by her desire to carry on the exquisite work of her grandfather, Julie has created limited-edition bronzes of several of these mascots, including the aforementioned stork. “Modern cars are functional — they get me from place to place — but vintage cars are art”, she says. “It’s difficult to find anything that is unique today, but that was the way it was back then.”
One of the most renowned ornaments is François Basin’s depiction of Femme Mangbetu (also known as Nobossodroue), a rendering of a a woman of the Congolese Mangbetu, who became a well-known celebrity following the Expedition Centre-Afrique held in Paris in 1926.
Her elegant profile was used in advertising from French Tobacco dealers SEITA, whilst Jospehine Baker and the Revue Nègre launched a hair style ‘á la Mangbetu’. François Bazin’s creation adorned vehicles taking part in Citroën’s famous ‘Croisière Noire’ expedition of 1924/1925. The trek saw eight Kégresse-tracked Citroëns carry a team of 17 some 28,000 kilotmetres across Central Africa in order to collect plant, bird, and insect samples, as well as document much of the previously-undiscovered rural Africa.
Bazin is thought to have created at least 80 mascots and hood ornaments during this period, and from these incredible works of art, Julie has selected 10 of the most highly-regarded to be reissued as decorative pieces in bronze.
François Bazin Sculptures are now available to purchase through The Classic Motor Hub online shop, or can be seen at our showroom near Bibury, Gloucestershire. If you’d like to know more about these elegant recreations, don’t hesitate to contact us.