Although an accompanying text sheet issued with the print lists the artist as “Maurice” Desvallières, it is generally attributed to Georges Desvallières. The text also includes a passage that evidently inspired this design from Jean Lombard’s 1888 novel L’Agonie. Lombard describes a bacchanal, where “a Libyan slave, entirely nude, crosses the atrium paved in marble. He carries on his shoulder an amphora with two handles, filled with a precious wine of Coecube, which it is the custom to spill on the table at the end of the meal, as a conclusion to the libations to the gods.”
From May 1897 to April 1899, L’Estampe Moderne promoted the art of printmaking by commissioning well-regarded Art Nouveau artists to make prints, which were then circulated to subscribers along with a periodical. Each subscriber received four prints a month, and since the intention was to promote fine printmaking, the quality of the printing was excellent. Participating artists included Alphonse Mucha, Louis Rhead, Marcel Lenoir, Henri Boutet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edward Burne-Jones and Théophile Steinlen. Each print was embossed with the blindstamp of a woman’s profile in the lower right corner.
Georges Desvallières was a French painter, known for religious themes and scenes from Greek and Roman mythology. He studied at the l’Académie Julian, and with Gustave Moreau, who exerted a strong influence on his style and subject matter, as did the Italian masters, whose work he absorbed during a lengthy stay in Italy in 1884. Desvallières made his Salon debut in 1883, and began winning prizes in the 1890s. A profoundly religious man, he opened an atelier for instruction in producing sacred art with his friend Maurice Denis. His best known paintings include depictions from the life of Jesus, as well as themes from antiquity of both specific gods and heroes (e.g. Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides) and decorative compositions set in that era (e.g. The Archers). During World War I, he commanded a battalion, and afterwards was commissioned by the French government to design the windows of the chapel where the heroes of Verdun are buried. In the United States, he created the decorations for a church in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Desvallières also illustrated numerous literary works. His works are in major museums including the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre in Paris.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Publisher’s blindstamp lower right, as issued.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 3, pp. 225-26.
“Desvallières, Georges-Olivier.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/02/0224/T022457.asp (9 August 2007).