Henri Rapin is born in Paris in 1873. Pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Eugène Grasset, he gradually moves towards the decorative arts and made Art Nouveau furniture that evolves, from around 1910, towards the Art Deco movement. From 1905 to 1930, he is artistic director of the malletier Moynat. Strongly involved in the revival of applied arts that characterizes his generation, he is appointed from 1920 to 1934 artistic director of the school of the Committee of the Central Union of Decorative Arts and artistic advisor to the National Manufactory of Sèvres.

From 1905 to 1930, Rapin is the artistic director of Moynat, the oldest French manufacturer of trunks.

For the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts and Industrial 1925 in Paris, he composes the large reception room and a dining room in the French pavilion and porcelain lamps of Sevres. During this exhibition, he meets Camille Tharaud for whom he draws some twenty forms and several decorations presented as early as 1927 at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs.

Rapin's work at the exhibition and cooperative relations with artists such as René Lalique, Max Ingrand and Raymond Subes also led to the direct commissioning of the interior design of a new private residence in Tokyo for Prince Yasuhiko Asaka . He draws seven rooms: on the first floor, the large room, the living room, the small salon, the vestibule and the large reception room; on the second floor, the living room and the office of the prince. There are also paintings and murals he made. Completed in 1933, the residence is now open to the public and is known as the Teien Metropolitan Museum of Art in Tokyo.

At the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, Rapin's drawing for a Moroccan red leather trunk is awarded the Diploma of Honor and contributes to Moynat's reputation as the leading producer of luxury luggage of the period.

From 1920 to 1934, Rapin also contributes as a consultant to the National Manufactory of ceramics in Sèvres, creating many forms, often decorated, including the fountain light in 1925. His ceramic blanks for lighting devices are a success such that it allows the Manufacture to reduce its financial dependence on the French State in 1927.

Henri Rapin sets aside the ornamental sophistication in favor of a great classicism of form. An object of contemplation, the vase Rapin 21 is a large and generous sphere reminiscent of the Moon Jarre of Korean ceramic art.

The vase Rapin 21, originally created in sandstone around 1925, is a testimony to the new impulse that the Manufacture takes in the early 20th century, to renew the forms of Sèvres and insert into the influence of the French decorative arts. Here expresses itself a desire for sobriety and minimalism highlighting the functional dimension of the object.

He also gives projects to Camille Tharaud of Limoges.

He is the architect of the entire decoration of the village hall of the 15th arrondissement of Paris which includes stuccos, sculptures, woodwork, low paneling, furniture but also peripheral decorative painting of the vault representative including the 4 seasons. The central part of the vault, more flat, is decorated by the painter Octave Denis Victor Guillonnet.

He makes the way of the cross of the Saint-Martin Church of Hénin-Beaumont. This ensemble, inaugurated in 1929, is one of the monumental decorations of Art Deco style preserved in Paris. The complex is listed in the supplementary inventory of historic monuments by ministerial decree of April 6, 2011 and was the subject of its first complete restoration campaign in 2011. On this occasion, under the direction of the architect of the Heritage Luc Joudinaud, the huge lacks of the canvases of Henri Rapin (five complete) were restored by the specialized restoration workshop Meriguet-Carrère.

He died in 1939.


Henri Rapin (1873-1939), is an artist perfectly representative of the figure of the artist-decorator of the early twentieth century. Today unknown to the general public, he was nevertheless a major player in the revaluation of the decorative arts and the constitution of a modern French style. Painting, illustration, ceramics, glassware, tapestry, furniture, are all areas for which Henri Rapin provided models for the renewal of forms. This book presents his artistic career through an analysis of his stylistic evolution and his active role in the construction and diffusion of a new decorative style. The opportunity to better understand the mutation between these two major movements that were Art Nouveau and Art Deco.