Motoring Art Website

The art of uk motoring artists

Olyslager Piet

Year working: 1915 - 1993

On my previous webpage I said that Olyslager illustrated poorer quality books and I was unsure if he actually worked in the UK. I have received a response from John Mulder who sent illustrations to show the good quality of Olyslager's art but although he had a UK office the questionv of where he completed the work is still open. I attach John Mulders comments verbatim. ---------------------------------------------------------------- I see the name Piet Olyslager on your 'Motoring Artist Listings'. Although Piet was a Dutch artist, he did have an office in the UK. However, I am not sure he also made his artwork at his UK-office. I am a motoring journalist and I have interviewed Piet Olyslager (1915-1993) several times in the early 1990's. Piet Olyslager was born in 1915 in Soest, the Netherlands and worked as a young man as a mechanic for Garage Stam in Soest, the Netherlands. Garage Stam was the official importer of Bugatti automobiles in the Netherlands and it was the place were all friends from the racing car scene would meet. Subsequently Olyslager came in contact with racing car driver Hans Herkuleijns, and became his mechanic. Together they travelled in the 1930's all over Europe; from circuit to circuit. Olyslager was also a gifted artist and when he was not working on a car, he made drawings from the races and sold them during WWII to make ends meet; a lot of these drawing were also given away to his racing car friends (see photo's 11, 12 and13). After the WWII he went back to Paris in search for his friends from the Bugatti-years (Olyslager called himself a dedicated 'Bugattist') and he spend time with the likes of Jean Pierre Wimille, Charles Faroux and he visited of course the Bugatti-works. Charles Faroux introduced him to Anthony Lago (Talbot-Lago) and Lago gave Olyslager several commissions. It was the beginning of a fruitful cooperation. Olyslager kept drawing for Talbot-Lago as a free-lance artist, even when Anthony Lago had sold his company to Simca. Olyslager made most of these drawings in his house in the Netherlands and in 'his' atelier in Rue Chardin in Paris (near the park of Palais Chaillot, where Talbot was located). Lago was being advised by Carlo Delaisse for the design of the factory-body's (Delaisse designed the Grand Sport T26 and the 2500 T14), but Lago needed someone who gave suggestions to the coachbuilders (the Talbot-Lago chassis were very much in demand by the French coachbuilders). These drawings were made by Olyslager; he did not made the official designs, but made the cars 'that could be'. Most of the illustrations in the brochures of Talbot-Lago are also made by him (photo nr. 4). Olyslager also made drawings for JP Wimille and Carlo Abarth. In the 1960's he became very successful as a publisher of automotive literature (the Olyslager Organisation) with offices in the Netherlands and in the UK. He also worked for Dutch television. He set his company in the UK up in the house where Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin used to live. (Peggy, his wife, then encouraged him to buy a Rolls-Royce, which he did). Piet lived and worked there, if he wasn't in the Netherlands. By this time he spend less time in France and more time in the UK and he had become more of a businessman than an artist. But he still made about half the drawings that were used in 'A picture history of the Motorcar' (Sunday Times); the other half were made by Jos van der Hoek, his first employee. Jos only worked in the Netherlands. Piet later sold his company to Times Warner. His collection of automotive literature was once the largest of Europe. He wrote his memoires in 1975, but it was never published. I discovered this manuscript about ten years ago and have published parts of it in automotive magazines. Many drawings that he made for Talbot-Lago are now in my collection.

Further reference


Card design

Piet Olyslager in a television studio. Photgraph courtesy of John Mulder.

Talbot-Lago Design. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Lago-Talbot illustration. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Design for Lago-Talbot. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Prewar art. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Prewar art. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Prewar art. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.

Series of books by the Sunday Times illustrated by Olyslager. Illustration courtesy of John Mulder.