This group of pages displays 32 postcards in our collection that are the work of the French artist, Jacques Camille Lardie. Lardie, who goes under the pseudonym of Jihel (i.e. JL), was born on 26 June 1947 in Périgueux, France, and is one of the most important practitioners of the French tradition of so-called caricature art.
Jihel created and published cards on a wide range of subjects (the majority of cards show his signature in various forms). Among his many sources of inspiration was Berlioz and his music; the cards illustrated here give a representative selection of his Berlioz-related work, though they do not constitute a complete collection. All the cards feature drawings of Berlioz himself, as well as other persons and creative artists, who inspired him in various ways or were connected with him: Harriet Smithson, among writers Shakespeare, Goethe and Gérard de Nerval (the translator of Faust), among composers Beethoven, Berlioz’s contemporaries Liszt and Wagner, and others. Among the works of Berlioz which particularly appealed to Jihel’s imagination the Damnation of Faust figures most prominently, notably in its satanic aspects, whereas other works, for example Les Troyens, are conspicuous by their absence.
The pictorial world of the cards is surrealistic in character, and constantly teases the viewer’s imagination, but so do the deliberately enigmatic and crytpic texts which form an integral part of the cards. It should be added that the cards are not apparently individually dated and do not form part of a sequence or collection. Given all this the grouping of the cards into a series of separate pages is somewhat arbitrary and done purely for convenience. Each of the postcards was issued in only 30 copies, individually numbered and autographed by the artist on the back of each card (see the illustration below).
Special mention should be made of one particular figure who turns up on more than two-thirds of the cards illustrated here, and is easily recognisable by his distinctive beard and hair style: he is in fact the French novelist Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918). Born in Lyon in the family of the fervent Catholic journalist and mystic Louis-Adrien Péladan, Péladan acquired from his father his zeal for mysticism and Catholicism. According to Beti Žerovc, Péladan’s delight in costumes, mysteries and unusual rituals was common among occultists and artistic circles of the time. A prolific writer on a wide range of subjects, his work included esoteric “self-improvement” books, and books on becoming a magus or a fairy (see ‘Joséphin Péladan: A Proto-Curator?’, in Beti Žerovc, When Attitudes Become the Norm: The Contemporary Curator and Institutional Art, Archive Books, 2015, pp. 38-53).
On the cards illustrated here Péladan is regularly depicted as an onlooker or commentator on the scene before his eyes. A number of cards show him engaging in conversation with Berlioz specifically: these have been grouped together in the last two pages under the title of ‘Péladan and Berlioz’.
Signature of Jihel with the serial number of one of the cards
(typical of all the 32 cards in our collection)
Postcards 1 : Harriet Smithson
Postcards 2 : Shakespeare, Goethe, Gérard de Nerval
Postcards 3 : Beethoven
Postcards 4 : Liszt, Wagner, Satie
Postcards 5 : La Damnation de Faust
Postcards 6 : Péladan and Berlioz (1)
Postcards 7 : Péladan and Berlioz (2)
The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; the Berlioz Art Postcards page was created on 1 March 2017.
© Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.
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