Widely regarded as one of the finest automotive poster artists of all time, Georges Hamel was born in Laval, France on September 18th 1900. He was brought up in a family with great feeling for artistic & technical developments in new century that began full of promise. It was in his native town when he was 11 that he had a moment of revelation of the beauty of airplanes, when a biplane piloted by a local politician tossing out leaflets flew over Laval. Two years later, the sight and sound of racing cars driven in Laval by another Georges. Champion race car driver Georges Boillot (Peugeot) and Ernst Friedrich (Bugatti) - to mention only the most prestigious - filled the thirteen-year-old with wonder. Straightaway, young Georges took to his paintbrushes and covered the back of postcards published by his father with fine gouache. At school he won prizes in art classe, which later turned into a career.
In 1918, he passed the entrance examination for the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and went to Paris for further study. At the age of 20, under the name Géo Ham, he drew his first cover illustration for French Car magazine, Omnia. Soon his posters advertising motor races and air shows brightened up many city walls. He began getting his illustrations and fine art published on a regular basis by 1923, and by the 1930s was already established as the finest in his field. Ham was commissioned to create the now iconic Art Deco paintings, prints and posters for the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and many other prestigious European Races. A highlight of his life was competing in the 1934 Le Mans race in a 2-liter Derby, and although fuel problems forced him to withdrawal, the experience only added to his passion for racing art.
During the war he volunteered as a driver and was awarded the Croix de Guerre when he joined in the defense of a bridge at Garigliano, using the weapon of a wounded comrade and only retreating when he ran out of ammunition. After World War II, in spite of his previous fame, the "prince of speed" gradually fell out of favor, joining other famous painters as a victim to the new technology of colour photography. He died in 1972 during surgery and his funeral took place at the Chapel of Grace Val on the 30th of June.