All that is composed will decay...

Félicien Rops: l'initiation Sentimental...

Mar 11, 2015

Félicien Rops, a Belgian artist (7 July 1833 – 23 August 1898), known primarily as a printmaker in etching and aquatint. At the age of twenty he relocated to Brussels where he attended the Académie de Saint-Luc and began creating satirical lithographs, which brought him early fame as a caricaturist. His activity as a lithographer ceased about 1865, and he became a restless experimenter with etching techniques.

Rops met Charles Baudelaire towards the end of the poet's life in 1864, and Baudelaire left an impression upon him that lasted until the end of his days. Rops created the frontispiece for Baudelaire's Les Épaves, a selection of poems from Les Fleurs du mal that had been censored in France, and which therefore were published in Belgium.

His association with Baudelaire and with the art he represented won his work the admiration of many other writers, including Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Stéphane Mallarmé, Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, and Joséphin Péladan. He was closely associated with the literary movement of Symbolism and Decadence.


After the failure of his marriage, Rops moved to Paris in 1874 where he lived with two sisters, Aurélie and Léontine Duluc. With Léontine, he had one daughter, Claire.

Like the works of the authors whose poetry he illustrated, his work tends to mingle sex, death, and Satanic images.


According to Edith Hoffmann, the "erotic or frankly pornographic" nature of much of Rops's work "is at least partly due to the attraction these subjects had for a provincial artist who never forgot his first impressions of Paris".

Rops often combined soft-ground etching—a technique practiced by few artists of his day—with mezzotint or aquatint, and sometimes added hand-coloring to his plates. His etchings were popular, and influenced many younger artists, including Symbolists such as Edvard Munch and Max Klinger.