Andre Lhote
to the pictures
back to illustrator index page

Andre Lhote

Le Dir de L’Ancien Mariner, published in Paris by Emil-Paul Fr ères, 1920. 48 pages, with illustrations by André Lhote. 21 × 16 cm. colophon: ‘ƒtablie sur les maquettes & par les soins d’Alexandre Gaspard-Michel, cette édition, qu’on ne réimprimera jamais en Fran≠ais, est limitée ˆ: un exemplaire, au nom du souscripteur, sur papier vélin ˆ la forme d’Arches, comportant deux suites des gravures & enrichi des dessins originaux; neuf (A–I) sur papier de Chine, comportant deux suites; vingt-sept (i–xxvij) sur papier bis du Mittineaugue-mill, comportant une suite; & 729 (i–729) sur papier vergé ˆ la forme des v G. z. de Hollande. Emile-Paul Freres. Achevé d’imprimer le dixi ème Décembre 1919, ˆ Paris. Louis Kaldor.’

This French edition of the Ancient Mariner was one of several illustrated books of poetry published in Paris by the Emil-Paul brothers ‘at the sign of the Rainbow’ in the first half of the twentieth century. It has the most elaborate tarpaper cover (illustrated opposite), with interlacing lengths of raffia string, representing perhaps a ship’s rigging, or perhaps a captain’s logbook. The text of the printed label is based upon the ‘Argument’ that accompanied the first, 1798 version of the poem. This is one of 729 copies printed on Dutch ‘v. G. z.’ handmade laid paper by Louis Kaldor.

The poem itself, translated into prose by Guy Lavaud (author of Poétique du Ciel, 1930) and his wife Odette, is embellished with six headpieces, engraved on wood, by André Lhote (1885–1962), who also provided the fontispiece (illustrated on p. 88). Lhote was a painter, critic and teacher, who had been apprenticed to a woodcutter at the age of twelve. He had a high regard for decorative art, and was a friend of numerous artists and writers, including André Gide, and was a friend of Jacques Rivi ère and Alain-Fournier. He taught painting first at the Académie Notre-Dame des Champs in Paris, and then at his own Académie André Lhote. Painting, he wrote, consisted of certain constant elements that he called ‘plastic invariables’. Lhote was a native of Bordeaux, and the port, together with that of Marseilles, furnished him with his most common subjects. His liking for nautical scenes can be seen in his illustrations to Jean Cocteau’s Escales (also published in 1920), and his sensitive designs for the Ancient Mariner. For many years Lhote was closely identified with the Cubists, but his linear Mariner illustrations are consciously medieval in feel.

The Ancient Mariner has frequently been translated into French. Another prose version, Le vieux Marin, had been published in 1858, and La Ballade du vieux Marin appeared in Paris in 1901, with text and translation by Valery Larbaud.