Having drawn the magnificent Bugatti engines, one is of course also fascinated by its creators. So I decided to make some detailed and realistic pen drawings of father and son – Ettore and Jean – on important occasions. The young Jean sits next to his father in 1924 at the Lyon Grand Prix, in a type 35. His father is then 43, and Jean is 15…
Ettore Bugatti was to shape automotive history forever – with his formidable artistic and technical genius. He was born on 15 September 1881 in Milan, into a very artistic family. His father was an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designer, his brother Rembrandt Bugatti a sculptor, his grandfather an architect and sculptor.
Ettore turned his interest to cars. In 1909, his son Jean was born, and in that same year Bugatti established his legendary automobile company, Automobiles E. Bugatti, in 1909 in the then German town of Molsheim in the Alsace region. He had married Barbara Maria Giuseppina Mascherpa. Besides Jean, the marriage produced two daughters, L’Ébé in 1903 and Lidia in 1907, and another son, Roland in 1922.
Of course, son Jean was soon to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jean designed in de mould and tradition set by his father the Bugatti’s Type 50 and 51 and the stunning Bugatti 57, with their beautiful twin cam engines. When Jean reached the age of 27, Ettore retires, and leaves the factory and its management to Jean. Unfortunately, the kind and genial Jean kills himself on 11 august 1939 behind the wheel of the 57C which had just won Le Mans, running at more than 200 km/h against a platan on a country road in Duppingheim.
I drew this charming and very elegant man here when he was 23.
Since then, things went downhill for Ettore and the famous brand. World War II ruined his factory in Molsheim, and his wife Barbara died in 1944. But Ettore Bugatti remarried in 1946, to Geneviève Marguerite Delcuze. This union and marriage had produced already a daughter, Thérèse in 1942 and later a son, Michel in 1945.
Ettore was also a lover of horses and yachts. He had bought a magnificent one after the war, but contracted the flu while visiting it at the wharf. Having contracted pneumonia, he subsequently went into a deep coma. He was almost certainly unaware of the court decision whereby his property in Alsace, which had been confiscated by the state as retribution caused by his Italian origins, were restored to him on 20 June 1947: Ettore Bugatti died just over two months later, on 21 August without having recovered consciousness.
Hans Knol ten Bensel