BAUDELAIRE, Charles. ‘Maurice D’ATTYS’ [pseudonym of Maurice Jaubert BECQUE], illustrator. ~ Les Pièces condamnées, six compositions dessinées et gravées, a l’aqua tinta. [Paris, c. 1920].
Folio (255 × 260 mm), Letterpress title leaf, 6 plates, each in three states, tissue guards with printed captions, double wrapper of grey paper and gold and black paper. Later matching portfolio (with printed label). Bookplate of Henry Barthélemy, artist’s inscription to title ‘À mon ami Barthélemy en toute amitié Maurice d’Attys’.
An extraordinary suite of illustrations to the six censored poems from the Fleurs du mal, darkly erotic and masterfully harnessing the combined effect of etching and aquatint processes. The six plates appear in three states each: an etching (here in proof in two cases), an aquatint/etching and a coloured aquatint/etching. The suite was issued in only some 60 copies and this one is a presentation from the artist, under the pseudonym he adopted for this project, to illustrator and publisher Barthélemy.
The four subjects are: ‘Les Bijoux’, ‘Le Léthé, ‘À celle qui est trop gaie’, ‘Lesbos’, ‘Delphine et Hippolyte’ and ‘L’outre de la volupté’. The V&A catalogue description of the last plate gives a sense of what we are dealing with: ‘A parody of “The Nightmare” by Henri Fuseli, showing a nude woman with a ghoulish skeletal face leaning over and holding the erect penis of a nude man who is lying sprawled backwards over the bed in the pose of the Fuseli painting. In the background a winged demon flies overhead.’