As far as we know, this is the only book illustration commission of Marcel Cosson, but it is the perfect choice for his bold, colourful style. One of Guy de Maupassant’s best stories, written in 1881, La Maison Tellier tells of the madame of a small-town brothel in Normandy who receives an invitation to her niece’s confirmation from her brother, who knows nothing of her ‘business’. She decides to take her five girls with her, and her regular patrons are taken aback when they discover the establishment is closed without explanation.

Cosson’s illustrations to this lightly-titillating tale strike just the right balance of innocence and sensuality, and like Courbouleix’s illustrations for La Maison Philibert, which you can see here, give a good sense of camaraderie in a small, traditional maison close.

Danseuse dans sa loge (Dancer in her Dressing Room), 1930

This illustrated edition of La Maison Tellier was one of the last de luxe editions created by the illustrious Paris publisher Georges Briffaut, who had been publishing many of the classics of finely-illustrated erotica for the best part of half a century.

The Cosson-illustrated La Maison Tellier was published in a limited numbered edition of 275 copies.