Raphaël Drouart’s Fleurs du Mal


It seems to be Fleurs du Mal Week here. Raphaël Drouart (1884–1972) was another French artist who specialised in woodcut illustrations. The pictures here are from a 1923 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal found on an auction site.

Despite (or because of) the scandalous nature of Baudelaire’s poetry, there are many illustrated editions of this particular collection, not all of them by artists suited to the material. This is often a common fate of those books whose popularity makes them a magnet for illustrators. One thing the various editions do have in common is the portrait of the poet as a frontispiece, although even there the author of Spleen can be made to look dopey or silly. By contrast, Raphaël Drouart captures the familiar scowl well enough, and also fares better than many when it comes to the poems. The combination of woodcuts and skeletons is reminiscent of Posada’s calaveras.





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