These are the twelve plates from La grande danse macabre des vifs of 1905 repurposed to illustrate Pierre Louÿs’ irreverant spoof sexual instruction book for little girls Manuel de civilité pour les petites filles or Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners, the history of which you can read here.

For the purposes of this edition, the plates were re-etched (or more correctly defaced) to remove as much of the text as possible, and hand-coloured in a rather garish palette; it probably suited the book’s intended clientele, but tended to detract from the quality of van Mäele’s prints.

This edition was published in a limited numbered edition of 400 copies; although no publisher is given, the title page says it was published in Brussels in 1919. It wasn’t – it was actually published around 1930, conveniently after van Mäele’s death, but the earlier date maybe gave it more perceived gravitas.

We are very grateful to Pierre-Étienne Leblanc for these illustrations.