Illustrator: Illustrated by Pierre Bonnard (French, Fontenay-aux-Roses 1867–1947 Le Cannet)

Author: Written by Paul Verlaine (French, Metz 1844–1896 Paris)

Publisher: Published by Ambroise Vollard (French, 1866–1939)

Printer: Printed by Auguste Clot (French, 1858–1936)

Printer: Printed by Tony Beltrand (French, Lyon ca.1847–1904 Paris)

Printer: Printed by L'Imprimerie Nationale, Paris

Date: 1900

Medium: 109 lithographs printed in rose ink; 9 wood engravings

Dimensions: Overall: 11 15/16 x 9 13/16 x 1 3/16 in. (30.3 x 25 x 3 cm)
sheet: 12 x 9 13/16 in. (30.5 x 25 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.713

Rights and Reproduction: © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Bonnard's response to Verlaine's poems on the parallelism of human nature was unprecedented in its rich expansiveness, his 109 designs suggesting the Rococo splendor of red-chalk drawings by Boucher and Watteau. The book, published by Ambroise Vollard, was the first modern livre de peintre, combining a classically printed text with a painter's freehand allusions. The illustrations are luxuriously unconfined by either strict format or literal attention to the text, and flow with extraordinary immediacy. While one contemporary critic dismissed the work as "uncertain ... stutterings," another declared that never before had illustrations been so perfectly adapted to a book of verse. Indeed, the harmonious relationship of word and image set a new standard in book design.