Emilio Grau Sala studied at the fine arts school in Barcelona, where he became friends with Antoni Clavé. While still very young he began exhibiting at the Humourists Exhibition. In Paris he exhibited at the major annual Salons. He also exhibited at many international group exhibitions and in 1937 received an important award at the Carnegie Foundation International Exhibition in Pittsburgh. He showed collections of his work in many solo exhibitions starting in Barcelona in 1929 and 1930. His first solo exhibition in Paris was in 1937 and he went on to exhibit in Madrid, London, Buenos Aires and New York. After three trips to Paris he finally settled there in 1936.
In Paris he was influenced by the paintings of Marcel Gromaire and especially Julius Pascin. He created theatrical sets and costumes for several plays including The Woman of Easy Virtue ( La Demoiselle de Petite Vertu) by Marcel Achard. He also illustrated many literary works including Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Bel-Ami by Maupassant, Colette's series of four Claudine novels, Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time ( À la Recherche du Temps Perdu), and works by poets including Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, the Elegies of Francis Jammes, The Sundays of Jean Dézert ( Les Dimanches de Jean Dézert) by Jean de la Ville de Miremont, and works by Rimbaud and Verlaine, among others. He decorated restaurants and contributed to the decoration of several liners, including the France.
His wide-ranging activities brought him into contact with a charming world or demi-monde which he depicted in all its luxury and artificiality. His subjects were often lightweight or even risqué and his style and subject matter, spiced with a certain Spanishness, suited the public's taste in the inter-war period. He developed his own style, although it was undeniably influenced by the various trends that emerged from Impressionism and was most successful when it made reference to the work of Bonnard.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Sceaux (Mus. de l'Île-de-France)