In 1968 the well-known Paris art publisher Pierre de Tartas, whose portfolio included Maurice de Vlaminck, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and Kees Van Dongen, commissioned Leonor Fini to illustrate a de luxe portfolio edition of Paul Verlaine’s poetry collection Parallèlement, first published in 1889. Parallèlement was a perennially popular subject for illustration, largely because it includes the two lesbian-themed cycles ‘Les amies’ and ‘Femmes’, so it is not hard to see why Leonor was an obvious choice for the Pierre de Tartas edition, and why she readily agreed.
The style of her Verlaine illustrations is quite different from other illustration work she was creating at the time, colourful, loosely-drawn and, for Leonor, rather pretty. She created fifteen colour lithographs for Parallèlement, plus two for the covers. Six are folded double-page illustrations.
It’s interesting to compare the Parallèlement illustrations with Leonor Fini’s paintings from the same period, also on lesbian themes. ‘La peine capitale’ (capital punishment) of 1969, for example, includes a significant interaction between the confident woman with her legs open and a clearly phallic goose, neck bent down as it contemplates the open legs and the knife being held rather too close. The colours are very similar to the Verlaine lithographs, but compared with the softness and comfort of the Parallèlement interactions the implications of ‘La peine capitale’ are much more threatening.
The Pierre de Tartas/Leonor Fini edition of Parallèlement was produced in a limited numbered boxed portfolio edition of 290 copies.