The art of Paul Thévenaz, 1891–1921


This portrait of Jean Cocteau by Swiss artist Paul Thévenaz isn’t included in the artist’s memorial book, Paul Thévenaz, A Record of His Life and Art (1922) which was published after Thévenaz died suddenly at the age of 30. Everything else in this post is, however, and there’s more in the book itself which shows Thévenaz ranging through society portraits (and self-portraits), designs for the theatre (I’ve included a Salomé below), murals and sketches.

Thévenaz is another candidate for the pantheon of lost gay artists although the work in the book isn’t especially homoerotic. There are fauns, however, which might be connected to his romantic association with poet Witter Brynner. The latter’s A Canticle of Pan was written in 1918, and is one of the many manifestations of the horned god in the literature of the period. As for Thévenaz, I like his drawing style a great deal; in places it resembles Wyndham Lewis in its sweeping curves and stylisations. (Thanks to Callum for the tip!)




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Edmund Dulac’s Tanglewood Tales


Another Dulac I’d not seen before, and what an exceptional edition it is. Tanglewood Tales is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s retelling of Greek myths, a popular book for children that’s been through many reprints. Dulac’s edition dates from 1918, with the illustrations combining some of the stylisation of Greek art with Dulac’s own derivations from Persian miniatures. This might seem odd historically—the Greeks and Persians were enemies, after all—but every plate is a beautiful piece of work. Collectors of Pan imagery should note a fine example in the twelfth painting.



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The Reflected Faun


Another one to add to the stock of fauns, satyrs and Pan figures that proliferate from the 1890s to the 1920s, Laurence Housman’s The Reflected Faun appeared in The Yellow Book in 1894. The magazine’s publisher, John Lane, also published Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan in the same year although an early version of Machen’s story had appeared a few years before. What’s notable about Housman’s drawing is the way he combines in a single image several distinct themes: Faunus/Pan, the reflected Narcissus, and all those tales of beguiling spirits lurking in water. The nature of the spirit in this picture is distinctly androgynous, a detail that wouldn’t have impressed those critics who considered The Yellow Book to be an unwholesome publication. The androgyny may be taken as deliberate: Housman was one of London’s “Uranian” artists, and a few years later joined George Cecil Ives’ Order of Chaeronea, a secret society for gay men and lesbians. In the light of this, the drawing might be interpreted as a symbol for a clandestine existence where true desires remain buried or submerged.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Aubrey Beardsley’s Keynotes
In the Key of Yellow
Ads for The Yellow Book
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
The Great God Pan
Peake’s Pan

Aubrey Beardsley’s Keynotes


Promotional poster.

Keynotes was a series of 34 novels and short story collections published by John Lane from 1893. Aubrey Beardsley produced cover designs and embellishments for 22 of the titles in 1895 while he was working on The Yellow Book which John Lane was also publishing. Beardsley’s designs comprised a title frame with illustration or decoration which was blocked in gold on the cover and also used as a title page. For 15 of the titles he also created a series of key-shaped monograms for the authors, designs which were used on the spines and the backs of the books. Collections of Beardsley’s art often show one or two of these pieces but you seldom see them all, and even when the title frames are reproduced the type is often omitted.


Keynotes Series of Novels and Short Stories was a small book published in 1896 intended to gather all the Beardsley designs in one place and also promote the series in general. Two of the most celebrated works to receive the Beardsley treatment are those by Arthur Machen: The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light, and The Three Imposters. The decoration for the latter gives no indication of the horrors lurking inside that volume, while the faun on The Great God Pan is a world away from the amorphous nightmare in a story that caused considerable outrage at the time. According to Stanley Weintraub’s biography, the Keynotes series was very popular despite (or because of) the stir it caused, and helped keep Beardsley’s work visible when many of his other illustrations were out of circulation.


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The beers of Pan


Bacchus has the wine so I suppose Pan can have the beer. Back in May the blog was stalled while I was contending with various computer problems but I did manage to do some work despite the turmoil. One job was a request from Grebhan’s, a small German brewery, who wanted help altering the design of their beer label. The results can be seen above. My contribution mostly involved making a neater arrangement of the Pan piper and symbols, and also changing the fonts. Once we had Futura selected as the main typeface I put a capital G behind the Pan figure. This was subsequently made into the minimal variant you see below, the head being the one from the Pan figure enlarged.


Earlier today Tobbi from Grebhan’s sent me a photo of the new labels. I’m very impressed with the way these have turned out, from the combination of matt and gloss to the diamond shape and the general minimal style. The black-on-black logo for the schwarzbier is a nice touch. I’m not a beer drinker (whisky, please) but if I was I’d want to try some of these.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Green Pipes: Poems and Pictures
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
The Great God Pan
Peake’s Pan