The Romance of Perfume


The work of French artist and designer George Barbier is no stranger to these pages but this is a book of his I hadn’t seen before. Richard Le Gallienne is a name familiar to anyone acquainted with the London literary scene of the 1890s—he was friends with Oscar Wilde and contributed to The Yellow Book—but unlike many of his less fortunate contemporaries he also had a life and career that lasted beyond the Mauve Decade. The Romance of Perfume (1928) is one of his last books, a short history of the perfumer’s art which could well have been written thirty years earlier. George Barbier’s illustrations aren’t as carefully designed as in some of his earlier works but the pair are well-matched.



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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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George Barbier’s Mirages


Mirages (1919) is a book of poems by Renée de Brimont with illustrations by George Barbier, an artist whose work has featured here on several occasions. This is a minor addition to the Barbier oeuvre with fewer illustrations than I would have hoped for, a handful of designs that show a different style to his more familiar pochoir prints. Many illustrators vary their styles—even Beardsley did—but Barbier seemed happy maintaining a single drawing style. (Note: The copy of this book at the Internet Archive is missing the cover picture above.)



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Tamara Karsavina’s Salomé


Salomé: portrait of Tamara Karsavina (1914) by George Barbier.

A slight return to the Russian ballet, and another Barbier portrait. Tamara Karsavina danced lead roles for the Ballets Russes, most notably with Nijinsky in the original performances of The Firebird. The pictures here are from La Tragedie de Salome, a ballet with music by Florent Schmitt, and costumes based on Beardsley’s illustrations by Sergei Sudeikin, another member of the Diaghilev circle.


Tamara Karsavina as Salomé in the Beecham Russian ballet season, 1913.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Salomé archive

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George Barbier’s Nijinsky

George Barbier’s Nijinsky


An inevitable one this, given the amount of times that George Barbier’s work has been featured here. Designs on the Dances of Vaslav Nijinsky was a series of prints published in 1913 when the dancer was at the height of his celebrity. All of Nijinsky’s major roles are represented although this isn’t quite the complete set. There did used to be a Japanese site with several galleries of Barbier’s early prints but this has now disappeared.




Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.




L’oiseau de feu.

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