The art of Henri Caruchet

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Byblis (1901) by Pierre Louÿs.

Henri Caruchet isn’t in George Barbier’s league, never mind that of Alphonse Mucha whose graphic style Caruchet appropriated. I’ve not been able to find details about his life either, all that turns up is examples of his book illustration on various websites. Author Pierre Louÿs is notable for his erotic works but it’s Caruchet’s illustrations for Jean de Villiot (via this site) which travel the furthest in that direction (see below), including another example of that deviant sub-genre, the woman being mauled by an octopus. If Caruchet had been a better draughtsman his illustrations might not have languished for so long.

There’s more decorative illustration by Caruchet at Gutenberg.org with an edition of Théophile Gautier’s Émaux et Camées. Two of Gautier’s poems from that volume are quoted by Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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Byblis (1901) by Pierre Louÿs.

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Les Litanies de la Mer (1903) by Jean Richepin.

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Parisienne et Peaux-Rouges (1904) by Jean de Villiot.

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George Barbier’s Falbalas et Fanfreluches

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George Barbier’s work has been a regular visitor to these pages. Falbalas et Fanfreluches was a series of pochoir print portfolios published from 1922–1926, a catalogue of various liaisons and amours with a mildly erotic tone. There’s also some sly humour in the examples below, such as the tiny dogs menacing a dandy in L’Agression, and the eyes of the woman in Romance sans paroles wandering to the trim backside of the posing sailor (who doesn’t seem so interested in her).

In addition to being beautiful drawings, Barbier’s title has solved for me a minor conundrum: Falbalas et Fanfreluches means “Ruffles and Frills”, and the Abbé Fanfreluche is a suitably ruffled and frilled character in Aubrey Beardsley’s unfinished erotic novel Under the Hill.

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Vaslav Nijinsky by Paul Iribe

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Another small and obscure volume hiding in the Internet Archive, Vaslav Nijinsky is a portfolio of six ink drawings by Paul Iribe (1883–1935) with a few lines of appended verse by Jean Cocteau. Iribe was a French designer and fashion illustrator who for a while was a member of the Ballets Russes circle, hence these depictions of the troupe’s most celebrated dancer. As post-Beardsley black-and-whites go these are pretty good although Iribe’s figures lack the requisite grace for their subject. If they were the only drawings of their kind that wouldn’t be so bad but one of Iribe’s contemporaries, George Barbier, produced his own superb series of Nijinsky drawings most of which can be seen here.

Note: the date given for this book at the Internet Archive is 1900 which seems quite wrong given that Nijinsky was still a young dancer in Russia at that time. Iribe’s drawings must date at least from 1910, maybe later.

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Echoes of Aubrey

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More of Aubrey Beardsley’s posthumous influence and more of the delightful collision between the 1890s and the 1960s. Monsieur Thombeau turned up this striking fashion shoot from LIFE magazine for 1967 showing a model posed against one of the Salomé drawings. A couple of days after this was posted, a reader wrote to point me to this list of films featuring Beardsley artwork. Most of those I knew about already but I certainly hadn’t heard of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977), a low-budget horror film about which we’re told:

A large, black, four-poster bed, possessed by a demon, is passed from owner to owner. The demon was a tree, who became a breeze and seemingly fell in love with a woman he blew past. The demon then took human form and conjured up a bed. While he was making love with the woman she died and his eyes bled onto the bed, causing it to become possessed. Those who come into contact with the bed are frequently consumed by it (victims are pulled into what is apparently a large chamber of digestive fluids beneath the sheets). The bed demonstrates a malevolent intelligence as well as some psychokinetic and limited telepathic abilities to manipulate dreams. A running commentary or chorus is supplied by the ghost—if that is the correct word—of an artist (who would appear to be Aubrey Beardsley, though this is never stated directly) trapped behind a painting on the wall.

That’s a posthumous fame Aubrey never would have anticipated. If anyone has seen this, let us know what you thought.

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Carry On Loving (1970).

Absent from the list of films is Ken Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance, which features the Salomé pictures again in its title sequence, and Carry On Loving, one of the dreadful British sex comedies which has an entire scene set in a modish pad decorated with Beardsley prints. Watch the scene in question here, if you must.

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The prints were produced by a London company, Gallery Five, in the late 60s, and their ad shows they were also selling works by Kay Nielsen (seen in the Carry On clip), John Austen, Charles Ricketts, George Barbier, Jessie King and others. Gallery Five did much to popularise Beardsley’s art among people who might otherwise have never noticed his work, and their products turn up in many films and TV dramas of the period. Finally—although it’s by no means the last word on this subject—the V&A has two great Beardsley-derived ads for Elliott Boots by Paul Christodoulou here and here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé