Léon Courbouleix is another prolific French interwar illustrator about whom very little is known. The son of a squadron commander of the French gendarmerie, Courbouleix was born and grew up in Montpellier in southern France, and attended the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris between 1911 and 1920.

We know that in the late 1920s and early 30s he was friends with the author and publisher Fernand Mitton, whose publishing house, Art de l’intermédiaire du bibliophile, published three books illustrated by Courbouleix. As well as Courbouleix, Mitton also commissioned fashion illustrator Pierre Brissaud (1885–1964) for Henry Murger’s Scenes de la vie Boheme, and Edward Chimot for an edition of Louys’ Aphrodite. After the demise of Mitton’s publishing venture in 1932 Léon Courbouleix went on to publish a number of erotic and semi-erotic titles on a subscription basis.

An illustration from Le mariage de Suzon

In the late 1930s Courbouleix wrote and illustrated two privately-printed limited-edition ‘memoires’ of the eponymous Suzon, Suzon au vacances and Le mariage de Suzon, an advanced style of writing and illustration which started a trend of similar erotic ‘diaries’ which continued well into the 50s.

Léon Courbouleix’ last illustrated work was published in 1953, and he died twenty years later in Paris, in the 14th Arrondissement, where several other illustrators of the period lived.

Works illustrated by Léon Courbouleix

Sarrasine, Honoré de Balzac, Paris, Maurice Glomeau, 1922
Le devin du village, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Maurice Glomeau, 1924
La vieux port de Marseille, Éditions d’Art de l’intermédiaire du bibliophile, 1927
Contes nouveaux et nouvelles en vers, Henri Pajon, L’intermédiaire du Bibliophile Collection ‘Conteurs libertins du temps passé’, 1928
La Maison Philibert, Jean Lorrain, Javal et Bordeaux, 1928
Scenes des maisons d’illusion, Raymond Hesse, Éditions d’Art de l’Intermédiaire du bibliophile, 1928
Le Libertin de qualité de Mirabeau, Paris, Éditions d’Art de l’Intermédiaire du bibliophile, 1929
Thémidore ou mon histoire et celle de ma maitresse, Godard d’Aucourt, L’intermédiaire du Bibliophile Collection ‘Conteurs libertins du temps passé’, 1930
Les petites cousines de Pierre Mac Orlan, Paris, Aux dépens d’un amateur, 1933
L’Odalisque, Voltaire, chez l’artiste, 1934
Les amours, Pierre de Ronsard, chez l’artiste, 1935
Suzon au vacances, chez l’artiste, 1937
Le mariage de Suzon, chez l’artiste, 1939
Chéri, Colette, A l’Emblème du Secrétaire, 1941
La vieille courtisane de Rome de Du Bellay, Paris, chez l’artiste, 1949
Le chef d’œuvre inconnu de Balzac, Paris, chez l’artiste, 1953