WILLETTE, Adolphe Léon

Scène badine: Le vieil homme et la sirène

Late 19th-Early 20th century
Size : 14.5 x 22 cm
Condition : A
Technique : Black ink and watercolor on paper
Reference : 571-217

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Adolphe Léon Willette, Scène badine: Le vieil homme et la sirène, late 19th-early 20th century, black ink and watercolor on paper, 14.5 x 22 cm, signed lower right: "A. Willette".

Adolphe Léon Willette was a French painter, illustrator, poster artist, lithographer and caricaturist, was born on July 30th 1857 in Châlons-sur-Marne, he died of a pulmonary congestion on February 4, 1926 in Paris. In 1875, he joined the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; later in 1877, he made his first press drawings for La Jeune Garde and La France Illustrée, which he signed under the pseudonym Nox. He was noticed at fairs in 1881 when he exhibited his painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Shortly after in 1882, he settles in  a studio in Montmartre. The 1880s marked the rise of the career of this multi-talented artist. 

As a decorator, Willette created signs and decor for the cabarets of the Butte, particularly for the Chat Noir, for which he also illustrated the eponymous review. As a painter, he exhibited every year at the Salon until 1898. Illustrator of books, menus, business cards or invitation cards, he also realized many cultural or commercial posters. A caricaturist since 1877, Willette made his real debut as a press cartoonist with the Figaro in 1880 and then, in 1885, he began a twenty-four year collaboration with the Courrier français. He illustrated numerous titles of caricatured press, notably Le Chat Noir, Le Courrier français, Le Cocorico, Le Pied de nez, L'Assiette au beurre, Le Rire or La Baïonnette (1915-1920), La Voix du Peuple and L'Echo de Paris. 

Willette's art illustrates the gaiety and carefree spirit of the Montmartre bohemia with representations of a poetic and delicate world populated by Pierrots, Colombines, scantily clad women, cats and cherubs. With a light line and often on a white background, these light-filled illustrations can be found in the journal Le Pierrot, in albums of lithographs, on his menus and on his advertising posters.

WILLETTE, Adolphe Léon