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Illustrating Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal: Preliminary Sketches

posted Aug 17, 2010, 9:09 AM by James Mah
From an illustrator's point of view, the poems in Les Fleurs du Mal can be divided into two groups:  those that tend to give concrete images when read and those that do not. The former are represented by these preliminary sketches for illustrations, done with ball point pen on 11 x 8.5" paper.

This is a typical two-page spread from my notebooks with the translation on the recto and a sketch on the facing verso page.  This illustration is for The Happy Corpse.  The sketches were conceived for final reproduction using drypoint and so ball point pen would be a good fit for this printmaking technique.  I like the black shapes on the recto page:  they were accidental as they bled from another illustration (pen and wash) on the verso of the text page.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Blind                                                 

       The Two Good Sisters                                                                                                                                   

Spleen IV

             Song of Autumn                                                                                                                                        Perfume

The Possessed