Alastair’s Carmen


“The artist at home” from Alastair: Illustrator of Decadence (1979) by Victor Arwas.

More Beardsley derivations in the form of some illustrations by Hans Henning Voigt (1887–1969), better known as Alastair, and an artist who more than anyone carried the Beardsley style and the fin de siècle ethos into the 20th century. If the photograph above is anything to go by he seemed to take Beardsley’s effete and languid characters as role models for an equally effete and languid manner.


The drawings here are a selection from twelve pieces for a 1920 edition of Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen, the novel upon which Bizet based his opera. Alastair for me has always been an artist whose enthusiasm for his subject matter outpaced his technique, his figure drawing can be rather weak at times which perhaps explains some of his more eccentric costume designs. Every so often the weakness becomes a virtue when it provides a surprising composition. Carmen didn’t seem to inspire him as much as other works, his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé are a lot better and I may post some of them here if I can find a way of scanning my Victor Arwas book without spoiling it. There still isn’t much else of his work on the web but S. Elizabeth did make a start recently with her post A Decadent Parade of Outrageous Fancies at Coilhouse.




Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Willy Pogány’s Lohengrin
Willy Pogány’s Parsifal

7 thoughts on “Alastair’s Carmen”

  1. Glad you saw it! I had hoped for more but it was the only one like it in the magazine spread. Of course it brought you to mind!

  2. Thank you for sharing these, I did see them earlier at Chateau Thombeau, but of great interest with the image of languid Alastair. I appreciate your comment concerning his enthusiasms outpacing his skill. I personally find that in my own work, and have noticed it with his. Perhaps some of my fondness for Alastair stems from sympathy.
    As always a pleasure.

  3. Hi Leonard. Having done my share of dodgy figure drawing in the past, I sympathise with Alastair’s enthusiasm. Flawless technical ability at the service of a weak imagination is never worthwhile which is why I have a book of Alastair’s work but don’t have books about the many technically proficient but horribly bland academic artists of the same era.

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