[Fr.: ‘artist’s book’]
Term used to define a variety of illustrated book that originated in France in the early 20th century. The essential feature of the livre d’artiste is that each illustration is an original work executed by the artist directly on the support (stone, wood, metal, linoleum etc) from which it is printed. Its originator was the dealer Ambroise Vollard, who commissioned Pierre Bonnard to illustrate with lithographs Parallèlement, poems by Paul Verlaine, published in Paris in 1900.
Subsequently Vollard enlisted the services of other painters and sculptors, including Auguste Rodin, Maurice Denis, Picasso, Aristide Maillol, Georges Braque and Georges Rouault. Three of his most successful matchings of artist to text are: Balzac’s Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu (Paris, 1931), with etchings by Picasso; Les Réincarnations du Père Ubu (Paris, 1932), Vollard’s own text, with aquatint full-page illustrations by Rouault; and, with etchings in colour by the same artist, Passion, which Vollard published in Paris shortly before his death in ...