Bryan de Grineau was born Charles William Grineau on the 11th May 1883 and was the son of a well known illustrator and caricaturist Charles Grineau, who used the pseudonym Alfred Bryan. At the age of twenty-five de Grineau who had studied art under his father gained his commission through an automotive magazine, The Motor at the French Grand Prix at Dieppe. The early pen and ink drawings of de Grineau were very similar to that of his father and resembled the printing processes of the time. Most magazine illustrators had graduated from line engraving and wood block technique. During World War I de Grineau served as Captain and Adjutant in the 41st Brigade Royal Field Artillery and sent home vivid sketches from the front for the Illustrated London News and the Illustrated War News. England being the first country to official commission war illustrators readily accepted his sketches. After the War de Grineau produced work for postcards, posters, race programmes, car manufacturers’ advertising and sales brochures. He would later reprise this role during the Second World War where he was the special correspondent for Illustrated London News and later became an official War Artist for the government. A 1940 issue of Life magazine featured some of Grineau's work entitled "Captain de Grineau follows the British troops in France and sends back sketches o0f their life in the trenches".
Some 237 drawings by him from his archive are held by the Imperial War Museum. He went on to cover such notable events as the 1953 Coronation, as well as this Royal Wedding in 1947.
Several of de Grineau's paintings would serve as the cover art for the Hornby Book of Trains series.
When de Grineau started working for the Motor, a British automotive weekly a natural rivalry developed with F. Gordon Crosby who started at rival Autocar at approximately the same time. Working the domestic and continental races de Grineau was at a disadvantage relative to Crosby. The Motor went to press on a Sunday evening so that the magazine could be printed on the Monday and be on sale on the Tuesday. The schedule was extremely tight for Saturday races in the UK and even tighter for Sunday racing on the Continent. De Grineau had to do drawings in the back of the pits while the race was still in progress or in the 1930’s onboard an aircraft returning from a Continental event, in comparison Crosby had three extra days as The Autocar was not published until the Friday. It is the hurried nature of his sketches that give his artwork a distinct appeal, as if catching the moment, which he certainly did.
Some of his better, stronger paintings were a series commissioned pre-Second War by ‘Johnny’ Lurani of his racing exploits. Several of these were sold by Christies in 1990 at their Monaco sale. These paintings were also reproduced in Lurani’s book ‘Racing Round The World’. Famous amongst these is his depiction of Lurani's serious crash at Crystal Palace. Lurani would later remark "I arrived at the corner where there was lots of oil spilt by an ERA. The car was uncontrollable.... I saw the scenery rushing around me and I had the exact feeling that this was the end. I was half thrown out of the car, thank God, and it landed with the four wheels in the air near me and I got away with a broken right hip. A good price to pay for such a terrible crash."
It was said that de Grineau was a considerable personality and very good company and Roger Walkerley, who was the Sports Editor of The Motor and spent many seasons covering races with him recalled many happy times with the artist.
On one occasion they checked into a Brescia hotel to cover the Mille Miglia and found cigars and champagne awaiting them. Eventually, the penny dropped that "Bryan" had been mistaken for "Baron" when the hotel was being booked. In 1936 de Grineau left The Motor on the grounds that the International London News paid far higher rates. During this period de Grineau also did some fantastical artwork for Modern Wonder a weekly youth’s magazine which dealt with mechanical and science inventions both of the present time and of the future.
Upon his death in May of 1957 an artist colleague wrote to the Times a couple of days later in order to expand on his obituary. It was observed that "The exigencies of the press, however demanded speed in his finished drawings too. From my memories of working with him I can testify to the extraordinary feats of concentration he performed in turning a few hurried notes into a complete and detailed picture to fill two whole pages in a matter of hours. The picture literally sprang to life as his charcoal moved with swift, nervous strokes over the paper. Such speed and accuracy sprang from a foundation of fine draughtsmanship and brilliant technique".