Published in 1869, Fêtes galantes was Paul Verlaine’s second volume, his first being the Poèmes saturniens of 1866. The twenty-two poems depict scenes of seduction and love banter between characters from the world of the Italian commedia dell’arte, set in an arcadian countryside. It was a perennial bestseller, and an obvious choice for a Barbier commission.
The twenty colour plates in pochoir style show George Barbier at the height of his career as an illustrator, the softly erotic nature of the human interactions mirrored by the stylised arcadian backgrounds.
The Barbier-illustrated Fêtes galantes was published by H. Piazza of Paris in a slipcased numbered limited edition of 1,200 copies.