Bugatti: Automotive and Design Dynasty
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Bugatti: Automotive and Design Dynasty

The Bugattis were automobile designers, furniture and jewelry designers, architects and sculptors. Carlo, Ettore, Rembrandt and Jean Bugatti overview.

Bugatti Veyron image licensed under Wikimedia Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 

Bugatti Design - Furniture, Sculpture and Cars

Giovanni, Carlo, Ettore, Rembrandt and Jean Bugatti have comprised one of the most renowned design dynasties in modern times. They have been significant contributors to art, architecture, engineering and automotives.

Giovanni Bugatti was an Italian architect and sculptor and father of the Bugatti empire of artists and engineers.

Carlo Bugatti, (1856-1940), Giovanni’s son, primarily known for his exotic furniture design. He also worked with jewelry, ceramics, silverware and other interior design elements. Carlo Bugatti’s work is heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Movements of the early 20th century. His work is in museums and private collections around the world. He was the father of two sons, Ettore and Rembrandt Bugatti.

Ettore Bugatti, (1881-1947), Carlo’s first son, is the creator of the distinctive Bugatti race car. The first Bugatti car was made in 1900. The iconic Type 13, later known as the Brescia, won many races in the early 1900’s. The continued refining of the design later led to the Type 35 racing car which was one of the most successful Bugatti race cars winning over 1000 races. Some of the significant attributes of this car was the weight saving design and the bullet/ barrel shaped body with an arch shaped radiator.

Ettore continued to produce the race car as well as other road models. His contribution to the automotive industry has been incomparable. Bugatti sport cars are some of the fastest, sleekest most stylish cars built today. A Bugatti Veyron can travel at a speed of 250 mph.

Rembrandt Bugatti, (1884 - 1916), Carlo’s second son made his mark in the field of fine art. He studied at the Milan Academy of Arts and was an accomplished sculptor by the age of 16. By the time he was 20 he was showing his work in exhibitions in major shows around Italy. He is best known for his sculptures of domestic and wild animals. He developed a unique style that incorporated elements from cubism and art deco but also maintaining a gestural quality to his work. The Bugatti Royal’s hood ornament is an elephant reared on its hind legs with it’s trunk in the air, designed by Rembrandt Bugatti.

Rembrandt frequently worked at the Antwerp zoo observing the wild animals for his sculptural work. He developed a relationship with the zoo keeper and an obvious connection with the animals that made their way into his sensitive sculptures. During the first World War, the animals were all destroyed and a military hospital was erected on the grounds. This act devastated Bugatti. His depression and poverty, tragically, led him to take his own life at the age of 31.

Jean Bugatti, (Gianoberto), 1909-1939, was the third child of Ettore Bugatti, and followed in his father’s footsteps in the automotive industry. He is the designer of the Roadster Royale as well as the T50, T55 and the T57. Although Jean took over his father’s business and was director of a racing team, he was forbidden by his father to race. He did however test drive the fast and sleek cars. At the age of 30 while test driving the Type 57C race car at over 125 mph on the open road, he crashed into a tree while avoiding a bicyclist and was killed.

Currently the Bugatti brand and trademark rights are owned by Volkswagen. Volkswagen currently produces limited production Bugattis that are high perfomance super-sport automobiles such as the Bugatti Veyron for exclusive clients.

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Comments (5)
Ranked #8 in Automobile History

Fascinating discussion of these classics of Italian design.

very informative article

Saw this on the most popular articles. Well, these are really nice. A very great discussion here, Judith.

VDub Guy

I think the latest amazing Bugatti car incarnation has revived much interest in this automaker. Good article!

Wow this is interesting! And I like the picture :P