Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lucien Métivet

A few days ago, I was checking my tumblr account and I came across a series of illustrations that I really liked. The person who posted them (http://my-ear-trumpet.tumblr.com/) usually posts vintage oddities along with lots of unique old illustrations, but this one really caught my eye.

Michel Provins published a book of what I took to be short stories and plays in 1900 and Lucien Métivet did several illustrations for each story, all done in pencil. The whole book, called Nos petits coeurs (Our sweethearts, in English) can be found here: http://www.archive.org/stream/nospetitscoeursp00lagruoft#page/n0/mode/2up

It’s actually really interesting to look through because although I speak some French, I wasn’t about to read the entire thing, and yet the illustrations really give a good sense of what each story is about.

Lucien Métivet was a French illustrator, painter and graphic artist born in 1863. He drew in a sort of caricature style, although nothing too exaggerated, but his strong gestural lines add to his ability to capture the relationship between two people. The image I chose is on page 58 in the book and is a good example of his almost unfinished style. Lots of detail is shown in the center of the image, but the edges show only hints of the surrounding scenery. Some of his drawings are more complete with full detail up to a definite edge, but the majority are sketchy representations of a moment in the story. The overall simplicity of his style works so well because he is able to clearly depict an engaging scene with minimal details.


  1. This is so beautiful! I like how it is unfinished-looking. Also, it's awesome that you could figure out what the stories are about from the illustrations.

  2. Great post. Just as a challenge, I'd like to ask you (and the whole class) if they can envision doing a project like this today?

    How common are illustrated books (excluding graphic novels or children's books)? As we move towards Kindles and iPads (and beyond), can anyone see a future for "book" illustration in the digital world?

    What might a good project be for an illustrator that wanted to revitalize this tradition or try something new in this area?