Laurent de Brunhoff

Laurent de Brunhoff

Laurent de Brunhoff at the 2008 Texas Book Festival
Born (1925-08-30) August 30, 1925
Paris, France
Occupation Artist
Nationality French
Citizenship American
Education Académie de la Grande Chaumière
Genre Children's literature
Notable works Babar the Elephant
Spouse Phyllis Rose
Children Anne de Brunhoff, Antoine de Brunhoff
Relatives Jean de Brunhoff (father)
Cecile de Brunhoff (mother)

Laurent de Brunhoff (born August 30, 1925, Paris, France) is an author and illustrator, known primarily for continuing the Babar the Elephant series of children's books, created by his father, Jean de Brunhoff.[1][2][3][4]

The children’s classic, Babar, began as a bedtime story that Cécile de Brunhoff told her young sons, Laurent and Mathieu, in 1930, when they were five and four years old, respectively. They loved the story about the little elephant so much that they asked their father, who was an artist, to draw pictures for them of the elephant world their mother had described. He did and eventually created a book, Histoire de Babar: le petit éléphant (The Story of Babar), which was published by Jardin des Modes, a family-run publishing house. Jean de Brunhoff created six more Babar books and had one more son, Thierry, but died of tuberculosis at age 37 in 1937.[5]

After the war, Laurent, who inherited his father’s artistic gift, trained at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under the painter Othon Friesz and began living as an artist in Montparnasse. But, wishing to maintain his tie to his father and the imaginative world of his childhood, he turned back to the character his father had drawn and taught himself to draw in his father's style. What Christine Nelson calls their "intergenerational artistic partnership" had begun even earlier, when Laurent was a teenager, and was asked to do the color for several pages which his father had left in black and white.[6] His own first Babar book, Babar et ce coquin d’Arthur (Babar’s Cousin, That Rascal Arthur), was published in 1946 when Laurent was 21.

He went on to publish over forty-five[7] more Babar books, as well as creating children’s books with characters of his own invention, Bonhomme and Serafina, among others.

He was married to Marie-Claude Bloch in 1951 and together they had two children, Anne, born 1952, and Antoine, born 1954.[8] They separated in 1985 and divorced in 1990.

In 1985 de Brunhoff moved to the United States, living in Middletown, Connecticut with writer and Wesleyan University professor Phyllis Rose. They married in 1990 [9] and currently live in New York and Key West, Florida.

De Brunhoff, who holds both French and American citizenship, was made an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.

There have been major exhibitions of his work and his father’s work in 1981 at the Centre Culturel du Marais in Paris, in 1983-84 in the United States (Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Baltimore Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, among others), in 1987 in Japan, and in 1989-90 at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, among others. In 2008 the Morgan Library and Museum in New York mounted a major exhibition of original drawings and manuscripts by Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff, for which a catalogue was published, Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors by Christine Nelson, including an essay about Babar by Adam Gopnik, which was also published in The New Yorker.[10] It celebrated the gift to the Morgan by Laurent de Brunhoff and his brothers, Mathieu and Thierry, of the manuscript of Jean de Brunhoff's first book, Histoire de Babar (The Story of Babar, 1931) and by Laurent of the manuscript of his first book, Babar et ce coquin d'Arthur ( Babar's Cousin: That Rascal Arthur, 1946). There have been smaller shows at many museums throughout America, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dixon Gallery in Memphis, the Speed Museum in Atlanta, and the Davison Center of Wesleyan University in Connecticut. A show is scheduled for 2011-2012 at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. In addition, de Brunhoff has exhibited frequently at the Mary Ryan Gallery in New York, which represents his work and his father’s. The work of Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff has also been the subject of books by Anne Hildebrand, Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff: The Legacy of Babar (New York: Twayne, 1991) and by Nicholas Fox Weber, The Art of Babar (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989).



  1. "'Babar' Creator Dead At 99". CBS News. 2003-04-08. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  2. de Bertodano, Helena (2003-09-15). "Elephants and old masters". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  3. "FREEING THE ELEPHANTS". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  4. Rothstein, Edward (2008-09-22). "All About Mr. Elephant, in His Becoming Green Suit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  5. Christine Nelson, Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors (New York: The Morgan Library and Museum, 2008), pp.17-18
  6. Nelson, Drawing Babar, p. 18
  7. Bernstein, Jacob (2012-11-29). "What I Love: Laurent de Brunhoff and Phyllis Rose". The New York Times.
  8. Ann Hildebrand, Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff: The Legacy of Babar (New York: Twayne, 1991
  9. "Phyllis Rose, Writer and Critic, Weds Laurent de Brunhoff, 'Babar' Author". The New York Times. 1990-05-20. Retrieved 2010-08-26.

Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff, Babar's Anniversary Album, with an introduction by Maurice Sendak and family photos and autobiographical captions by Laurent. New York: Random House, 1981.

Meet Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff Retrieved 2011-05-27.

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