The suave, mannered Parisian illustrator Pierre Vidal was very much an artist of his time, as can be seen from his 1898 self-portrait. He trained first in law, but took lessons from the painter and engraver Alfred Cadart, and started exhibiting work at the Salon of 1874. Attached to the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France from 1876 onwards, he left a detailed account of the costumes, furnishings and hairstyles of the belle époque in albums including Les heures parisiennes (1889), Paris qui crie (1890), and Paris qui consomme (1893). His book illustration career started in the mid-1890s, with commissions to illustrate Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen and the works of Honoré de Balzac.

By the time he came to illustrate Pierre Louÿs’ Les aventures du Roi Pausole in 1906 his illustration style was well-developed, and he clearly enjoyed producing lively, colourful images to match Louÿs’ erotic idyll.