This is too late for Walpurgisnacht (although it’s still night at this moment) but the 1st May is Beltane, and this is a very pagan drawing. The artist is Louis Boulanger, a friend of Victor Hugo’s here illustrating one of the author’s poems for Cent Dessins: Extraits des Oeuvres de Victor Hugo, illustrations for Hugo’s poetry, fiction and drama. Much of the work is mediocre or dull but this surprisingly excessive picture would have stood out even among better company. Many of the illustrations are engravings from paintings—one is an adaptation of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People—but the copy of Boulanger’s painting wanders freely from the original which is a much more typical piece of Romantic art. The engraver was Fortuné-Louis Méaulle who really ought to share a credit with the original artist.
A few of the more notable illustrations follow, one of which is yet another artwork on the perennial theme of man versus cephalopod.