After the Flood (Après le déluge)
25 3/8 x 19 15/16 in. (64.5 x 50.6 cm)
(1881 - 1955)
Medium and Support:
Gouache and ink
Location: Not currently on view
This drawing is a design for publisher Louis Grosclaude’s 1949 luxury edition of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud’s famous volume of prose poetry, "Les Illuminations." Grosclaude commissioned the well-known artist Fernand Léger to create 15 lithographs for the book.
"After the Flood," the opening poem, begins:
As soon as the idea of the Flood was finished,
A hare halted in the clover and the trembling flower bells, and said its prayer to the rainbow through the spider’s web.
Leger’s illustration reflects the notion of the day after the flood with a rapidly-drawn landscape: a shining sun, a rainbow, and trees and flowers rooted in a green ground. A man gazes on the scene with a detached, somewhat impenetrable expression. Many scholars consider Rimbaud’s dreamlike and visionary prose poems the foundation of modern European poetry. Léger’s symbolic and referential illustrations seem particularly fitting as complements.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]