It is hard today to understand why Charles Baudelaire’s 1857 poetry collection Les fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), considered one of the most important literary contributions to the symbolist and modernist movements, caused such moral outrage when it appeared. Its notoriety, however, along with the undoubted originality, has kept it in print ever since. When the book appeared the poems, dealing with themes relating to decadence and eroticism, were judged ‘an insult to public decency’; the author and the publisher were prosecuted and Baudelaire fined. Six poems from the work were suppressed, the ban on their publication not being lifted in France until 1949.

The publisher Nice Imprimatur gave Suzanne free rein to illustrated a limited boxed edition of Les fleurs du mal, and she produced a comprehensive portfolio of detailed pencil drawings, including several illuminated capitals. A numbered limited edition of 870 boxed copies were produced, of which twenty were ‘specials’ reserved for the artist and publishing team.