Bryan de Grineau’s father was the well-known illustrator and caricaturist Charles Grineau. As a young man he studied under his father, gaining his first commission from The Motor, an automotive magazine which sought illustrations for the French Grand Prix at Dieppe. During the First World War, de Grineau served in the 41st Brigade Royal Field Artillery, supplying illustrations for both the Illustrated War News and Illustrated London News. Following the war he travelled widely whilst recovering from shell shock, studying art in London, Paris, Antwerp, and New York. Subsequently he was much in demand for car manufacturer’s sales brochures and advertising, as well as posters, race programmes and postcards; he also specialised in aeroplanes. The Second World War saw him appointed as special correspondent for the Illustrated London News. He submitted some work to the War Artists Advisory Committee who did not retain it, but the Photographic section of the Ministry of Information did commission him to produce two drawings. Latterly the Committee sought to acquire some work he had produced for the Illustrated London News, but they declined to sell it. After the war he continued working for the Illustrated London News almost until his death in 1957.
Christies sold a selection of pictures from the Illustrated London News archives in 2014, featuring some of de Grineau’s highly regarded works, bringing to the attention of a new generation the work of this skilled illustrator.
His style was very distinctive, based initially on woodblock-type illustrations as produced in the Illustrated London News. He worked quickly and was able to produce his large illustrations on the back of a few scant sketches – an important skill when recording the spills of motor racing. The Illustrated London News, published from 1842 to 2003, retained some of the leading illustrators of the period to provide the images for its articles. As a newspaper, the pictures required rapid production, these works thus retaining a delightful freshness in contrast to the ancient buildings.