George Barbier’s Le Bonheur du Jour


French artist and designer George Barbier was born on 16th October, 1882, so here’s a post for his birthday. Barbier’s work has appeared here in the past but there’s still more to be seen, especially his book illustrations. Le Bonheur du Jour; ou, Les Graces a la Mode is a series of prints from 1924, some of which turn up in collections of Art Deco graphics. Those tend to be the society scenes but I’m always more interested in Barbier’s decorative or decadent work examples of which are also represented here. Of note is a Sapphic scene in an opium den (a common theme in the 1920s), a great deal of Chinoiserie, and more of a homoerotic flavour than usual: the languid blue Cupid is like a male equivalent of Saga in Saga de Xam, while the scene au lido features a surprisingly naked man on the left who may be eyeing the bare breast of one of the women nearby but could also be capturing the gaze of the swimmer in the black cap on the right. More of these prints may be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



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