De Brunhoff was an French artist and illustrator who found fame through his six books about Babar the Elephant. It was de Brunhoff's wife, Cécile who recounted the first tales of the elephant and his adventures in Paris. In a 2003 interview with CNN, Laurent de Brunhoff (son of Cécile and Jean) described how his mother's stories inspired his father's work:
The start, very start of Babar was a bed story from my mother. And my brother and I, we loved the story. We went to my father's studio and told him about it. He started to make a book for us. After the first book he made another one and another one. And he -- he just discovered himself, I think.Babar the Elephant's popularity continued on after his maker's death, with his son picking up the tale and going on to write numerous stories about him.
Like other children's book characters, Babar quickly leapt from the pages of books into merchandise items like clothing and homeware. We've mentioned other fictional characters that have inspired interior decoration like Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan or, more generally, adorable animals like Pandas or Teddy bears. I imagine it will come as no surprise to hear that Babar also found himself on furnishing fabrics in the 1930s, as shown by this curtain pelmet textile in our collection:
|Curtain pelmet with Babar the Elephant decoration, 1930s, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (Badda2052)|