Maison Devambez  

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"In his exhibition of drawings, held October 19, 1908, in the Galerie Devambez, in Paris, [Auguste Rodin] showed the most libidinous set of drawings ever exposed to an invited public, in which there were at least two that were frankly pornographic and for which show he was, by both French and foreign people, called "beast", "monster", "vulgar charlatan", "sadist." etc." --Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great (1925), Frederick Ruckstull

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Devambez is the name of a fine printer's firm in Paris. It operates under that name from 1873, when the business established by the royal engraver Hippolyte Brasseux in 1826 was acquired by Édouard Devambez. At first specialising in heraldic engraving, engraved letterheads, invitations. Devambez clients included the House of Orléans, Victor, Prince Napoléon of the House of Bonaparte and the Élysée Palace. Devambez widened the scope of the business to include advertising and publicity, artists’ prints, luxurious limited edition books, and an important art gallery. The House became recognized as one of the foremost fine engraver in Paris, winning numerous medals and honours. With the artist Edouard Chimot as Editor after the First World War, the series of art edition books, employing leading French artists, illustrators and affichistes, reached a high point under the imprimatur A l'Enseigne du Masque d'Or - the Sign of the Golden Mask and with PAN in collaboration with Paul Poiret.

Devambez publishing

Long-established as a printer, Devambez only ventured into book publishing at the start of the twentieth century, the first being in 1908, a book by Georges Cain on La Place Vendôme. The publishing business was carried out from premises at 23, rue Lavoisier. Books were published either simply under the name Devambez, as Devambez Éditions de Luxe, or as À l’Enseigne du Masque d’Or, Devambez ; the term Masque d’Or was also used for two beautiful Art Deco almanacks for the years 1921 and 1922, illustrated with pochoir prints by Édouard Halouze.

In this capacity, between 1906 and 1932 Devambez published around 70 general books, mostly illustrated, of which a selection of key titles is listed below.

  • Georges Cain, La Place Vendôme, 1908
  • Eugène Belville, Monogrammes, Cachets, Marques, Ex-Libris, 1910
  • Léon Bourgeois et. al., La Misère Sociale de la Femme, 1910
  • René Peter, La Création du Monde, ill. René Peter, 1912
  • A. Bernheim, Autour de la Comédie Française, 1913
  • Jacques Boulanger, Le plus rare Voscelett du Monde, ill. Pierre Brissaud, 1913
  • Charles Fouqueray, Le Front de Mer, ill. Charles Fouqueray, [1916]
  • Charles Fouqueray, Les Fusiliers-Marins au Front de Flandres, ill. Charles Fouqueray, [1916]
  • René Benjamin, Les Soldats de la Guerre, Gaspard, ill. Jean Lefort, 1917
  • Louis Raemaekers, La Guerre, ill. Louis Raemaekers, [1917]
  • Roger Boutet de Monvel, Nos Frères d’Amérique, ill. Guy Arnoux, 1918
  • Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Les Mères pendant la Guerre, ill. Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, 1918
  • Georges-Victor Hugo, Sur le Front de Champagne, ill. Georges-Victor Hugo, 1918
  • Guy Arnoux, Histoire de la Ramée, ill. Guy Arnoux, 1919
  • Jean-Paul Alaux, Visions Japonaises, ill. Jean-Paul Alaux, 1920
  • Almanach du Masque d’Or pour l’année 1921, ill. Édouard Halouze, 1920
  • Guy Arnoux, Les Caractères, ill. Guy Arnoux, [1920]
  • Jacques Boulanger, De la Valse au Tango, ill. Cappiello, Sem, Drian, Domergue, Guy Arnoux, De Goyon, Halouze, 1920
  • Marc Elder, À Bord des Chalutiers Dragueurs de Mines, ill. René Pinard, 1920
  • Claude Farrère, Vieille Marine, ill. Guy Arnoux, 1920
  • René Kerdyk, Les Femmes de ce Temps, ill. Guy Arnoux, 1920
  • Edgar Allan Poe, Une Descente dans le Maelström, ill. Marc Roux, 1920
  • Madeleine de Scudéry, La Promenade de Versailles, ill. Robert Mahias, 1920
  • Laurence Sterne, Voyage Sentimental en France et en Italie, ill. Édouard Halouze, 1920
  • Almanach du Masque d’Or pour l’année 1922, ill. Édouard Halouze, 1921
  • Léon Arnoult, La Variabilité du Gout dans les Arts, 1921
  • Jean de la Fontaine, Adonis, intro. Paul Valéry, 1921
  • Prosper Mérimée, La Double Méprise, 1922
  • Jean-Paul Alaux, L’Histoire Merveilleuse de Christophe Colomb, ill. Gustave Alaux, 1924
  • Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Adouin-Dubreuil, Les Nuits du Hoggar: Poèmes Touareg, ill. Galanis after Robert-Raphaël Hardt, 1926
  • Adolphe Willette, Les Sept Péchés Capitaux, ill. Adolphe Willette, 1926
  • Les Arcades des Champs-Elysées, Une Merveille du Paris Moderne, ill. Raoul Serres and Lauro, 1927
  • Guy Arnoux, Chansons du Marin Français, ill. Guy Arnoux, 1928
  • Cherronet, Jean Cocteau, Corbière, Dekobra, Etchegouin, Fouquières, Mac Orlan, and Edmond Rostand, Deauville, La Plage Fleurie, ill. Angoletta, Boucher, Dubaut, Gallibert, Geo Ham, Sem, Valerio, Vertès, 1930
  • Pierre Mac Orlan, La Croix, L’Ancre et la Grenade, ill. Lucien Boucher, 1932

Édouard Chimot and Les Editions d'Art Devambez

The books listed above do not include those published from 1923 to 1931 under the name Éditions d’Art Devambez, which was a separate series of artist’s books.

The appointment of Édouard Chimot in 1923 as artistic director of a fine press imprint, Les Éditions d’Art Devambez, opened a new era for Devambez. Chimot was among the artists who carried the Symbolist aesthetic forward into the age of Art Deco. The 1920s were his heyday. This was when his own art was at its most powerful and original, and also when his influence throughout the Parisian art world was most strongly felt. As artistic director of the fine press Les Éditions d’Art Devambez, Édouard Chimot worked closely with artists such as Pierre Brissaud, Edgar Chahine, Tsuguharu Foujita, Drian, Jean Droit, Henri Farge, and Alméry Lobel-Riche. Typically, books published by André Devambez under the direction of Chimot were illustrated with original etchings, in strictly limited editions of a few hundred copies.

In 1929, Devambez published a lavish catalogue, simply entitled Les Éditions d’Art Devambez, in an edition of 100, to be given to his chief collaborators and preferred clients, containing extra proofs from all the books published from 1923-1929. Each copy of this catalogue was numbered and signed by Chimot to a named recipient. As almost all the books are already listed as out-of-print and unobtainable, the catalogue is not a sales pitch, but a record of achievement. To make the 100 books, the publisher bound up existing proof pages, to distribute to those most interested:
'Ce n’est pas un catalogue de reproductions que nous lui offrons, mais les précieux défets des livres eux-mêmes: les eaux-fortes du tirage et les feuilles typographiques du tirage, imprimées sur les différents papiers employés pour chaque édition.'
In order to construct a catalogue in this way, all copies of the book must be unique in their content.

Devambez may have regretted the extra expense involved in creating this exquisite calling card, as the Wall Street Crash and subsequent Depression devastated his market. No one would be buying, or bankrolling, projects such as these in the 1930s. There were several books still in the pipeline, but the glory days of the Chimot/Devambez partnership were over. Some announced books seem to have been cancelled.

The artists involved in Les Éditions d’Art Devambez include Art Deco masters such as Pierre Brissaud (who illustrated three books of the 31 or 32 published) and Drian. Drian was born Adrien Desiré Étienne, into a peasant family in Lorraine. The chatelaine of the village took an interest in the talented boy, but was horrified by his desire to be an artist. So when Adrien Étienne went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, he took the pseudonym Drian – his own first name, as his contemporaries heard it in his slurred Lorrain accent.<ref>Marcus Osterwalder, Dictionnaire des illustrateurs 1890-1945, 1992, p.321.</ref> He is often listed as Adrien Drian or Étienne Drian, but both are incorrect: the name Drian stands alone, like Erté.

Chimot drew from the wide range of artists from round the world who had settled in Paris in the 1920s : William Walcot was an English artist born in Odessa to a Russian mother; Edgar Chahine and Tigrat Polane were both Armenian émigrés; Tsuguharu Foujita, known to his Montmartre friends as Léonard, was the artist who more than any other infused Japanese art with a modern Western sensibility.

Édouard Chimot himself was the most prolific supplier of original prints to Les Éditions d’Art Devambez, illustrating with etchings Les Chansons du Bilitis, Les Poésies de Méléagre, Les Belles de Nuit, La Femme et le Pantin, and Verlaine’s Parallèlement.

List of books published under the imprint Les Éditions d’Art Devambez

(See References for sources of this listing.)

There appears to be one further volume published as part of the same series as those above, but not included in the published catalogue, perhaps because it was deemed too risqué:

  • Petite Mythologie Galante à l'usage des Dames, Les Dieux Majeurs, ill. André Lambert, 1928

Three books announced for 1930 may never have been printed. These were:

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