The twentieth-century Livre d’Artiste: The greatest challenge to the text–image hierarchy of French book illustration? | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2052-0204
  • E-ISSN:



This article explores the challenge presented by the twentieth-century French Livre d’Artiste to the text–image hierarchy of French book illustration. The notion that text took precedence over image was rooted in the idea that illustrations served as a means to adorn prose, aiming to literally represent the text without adding anything of substance to the writer’s work. It was not until the turn of the century, with the introduction of a new concept of the French illustrated book called the Livre d’Artiste, that this traditional hierarchy of text and image was threatened. The Livre d’Artiste brought together the prose of celebrated texts complemented by original pictorial work of well-known artists. Despite the relatively limited field of scholarship surrounding the Livre d’Artiste, this article argues that the genre can claim to represent the greatest challenge to the text–image hierarchy of French book illustration at the turn of the century. It is divided into three sections: examples of illustrators and writers who upheld the hierarchy; works and artists that challenged the balance; and finally the emergence of the Livre d’Artiste, presenting instances in which the genre reversed the hierarchy. This article includes analysis of works by Henry James, Gustave Doré, Honoré de Balzac, J. J. Grandville, Stéphane Mallarmé, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error