Here we have one of those French traditions which is almost impossible to understand in translation – chansons de salles de garde, literally ‘guardroom songs’ or ‘waiting room songs’. The first suggests soldiers with nothing to do but entertain themselves, the second adds a medical or hospital dimension, and this collection of verse probably has origins in both. Awaiting an uncertain future which may result in battle, pain, or even death requires a libertine outlook, where singing risqué songs seems like the best way to pass the time.
Albert Dubout was in his element with this commission from Michèle Trinckvel, and the illustrations include some of the best of his light erotic humour, which nonetheless capture important truths about human concerns and frailties. His older woman assailed by multiple cupids, and his older man checking his attributes in the mirror, are true Dubout classics.
The Dubout-illustrated Chansons de salles de garde was published by Michèle Trinckvel in a limited numbered edition of 5,000 copies, of which 460 included an additional set of plates and forty of these an original watercolour.