April 01, 2010

Salammbô illustrated by Rochegrosse

Georges-Antoine Rochegrosse (1859-1938) grew up surrounded by artists and man of letters. His widowed mother remarried the poet Théodore de Banville, then in the top of his celebrity.
In the family apartment, the young Rochegrosse met with the intellectual elite of the time: Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire and the Parnassians whom Banville is one of the leaders. From childhood, he liked to draw and his sketches are subjected to passing friends. Gustave Flaubert, charmed by a set of views of Carthage, said incidentally :
- Once you have the talent, I'll order you the illustrations of Salammbô.

This remark as a joke come true though 25 years later when the publisher Ferroud inquired Rochegrosse, now established and recognized, to illustrate Salammbô. It was in Barbizon, village of the pre-impressionists, that the illustrator achieved his work, supported by his friends, including the actress Berthe Bady who helped to make a relief map of Carthage inspired by Flaubert's description in the novel's opening. To give life to Salammbô, Rochegrosse is inspired by the bust of the Lady of Elche, discovered in 1897. In the Orientalist's style, Rochegrosse worked with retail the charm of local colours and highlighted what the novel contains of non-European exoticism.
(Source : Georges Rochegrosse, sa vie, son œuvre par J. Valmy-Baysse - Paris, F. Juven, 1910)

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Rochegrosse (Georges) - Flaubert (Gustave). Salammbô. Compositions de Georges Rochegrosse, gravées à l’eau-forte par Champollion. Préface de Léon Hennique. Paris, Ferroud, 1900, 2 volumes, large in-8, full Levant binding by Gruel. First impression. 52 compositions in black. Exemplaire H.C. on vvellum paper with two more states of the engravings.