Umberto Brunelleschi was born in 1879 in Montemurio, near Pistoia, Italy. After completing his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti, in Florence, he moved to Paris in 1900 where he worked as a caricaturist and illustrator, often under the name Harun-al-Rashid. He used this pen-name because the drawings he enjoyed doing were oriental in style, with brilliant jewel-like colours, influenced by Leon Bakst and Erte.
By 1912, he was illustrating books, designing posters and working for the Journal de Dames et des Modes as well as Femina magazine.
In his early years, his work was clearly recognizable by it's delicate lines, fanciful flourishes and exquisite execution. He used brilliant jewel-like colours, that brought a fairy-tale world to life.
He also designed stage costumes, creating many outfits for black American stage star Josephine Baker's revues. He was both a designer and an illustrator.
Between the two World Wars, Brunelleschi mostly worked on theatre sets, including La Scala in Milan and the Folies Bergere in Paris. He also painted sets for the Roxy Theatre in New York. His style was strong and colourful, orientalism and art deco.
Towards the end of his life, he illustrated only books, in particular numbered editions of erotica.
He died in Paris in 1949 at the age of 70.