Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Grasset’s father, Samuel Joseph, was a cabinetmaker and sculptor. As a very young man, Grasset discovered the work of Gustave Doré through his book illustrations, and in 1861 he entered the Polytechnicum of Zurich to follow courses of architecture. At the age of 26 Grasset moved to Paris, where he discovered Japanese art, and drew inspiration from the pioneer of photoengraving, Charles Gillot. An extremely creative individual, Grasset tried his hand at creating ceramics, tapestry, jewelry, book illustrations, and furniture design. Eventually he focused mainly on posters and decorative panels, creating his first posters at the Festivals of Paris in 1895. That year, Grasset created two immensely popular posters, “The Sun of Austerlitz” and “Napoleon in Egypt”. Those works, almost singlehandedly caused an upsurge in popularity of Art Nouveau in America at the time. In 1898 he drew a block typographical alphabet, ‘Grasset’, for the Peignot foundry, an italic typeface still used today by designers around the world. He also worked for Larousse editions, the French and Swiss post offices (postage stamps), the department stores La Belle Jardinière and Au Bon Marché (catalogues, calendars), the French Review, and Harper’s Magazine in the United States.
In 1894, Grasset was commissioned by the French department store La Belle Jardinière to create twelve original artworks to be used as a calendar. Incorporating his signature Art Nouveau style into gorgeous color wood engravings, Grasset depicts beautiful young women in seasonal costumes and gardens that change with the months, issued with empty spaces for calendar dates in a fine art portfolio called Les Mois (The Months) by the Paris publisher G. de Malherbe in 1896.