Between 1958 and 1970 the Paris-based publisher Baniyan produced a number of limited edition illustrated classics, and among the first of their productions were two titles by René Boylesve, illustrated by Bécat. René Boylesve, who was born René Tardiveau (he took his mother’s family name after her death) in 1867, was a prolific writer whose first novel was published in his late twenties.

René Boylesve

Les bains de Bade (The Bathing Pools) is his second novel, a lightweight romance set in the women’s section of an upmarket spa, where the bathers recount their experiences and fantasies. It is easy to see why the publisher commissioned Bécat to illustrate their edition of Les bains de Bade; it is the perfect vehicle for his suggestive drawings.

A Barbier illustration from the 1921 edition

The novel was first published in 1896, with a frontispiece by Roger Fougeray du Coudray. Other than the Bécat-illustrated edition, the best-known is that illustrated by Georges Barbier and published in 1921.

The Baniyan edition of Les bains de Bade was published in a limited numbered edition of 550 copies.