Produced at the height of his illustration career, Roi Pausole is possibly Umberto Brunelleschi’s most successful commission. Of all the many illustrators to try their hand at Pierre Louÿs’ classic elysian romp, Brunelleschi is the most stylish, colourful, romantic – and deviates furthest from the actual text, but the results are stunning.

Illustration from Dorat’s Les baisers

After Roi Pausole, Brunelleschi’s illustrations mostly became more subdued, erotic in a traditional ‘galante’ style, though his later illustrations to Claude-Joseph Dorat’s Les baisers précédés du mois de Mai (1947) and Shakespeare’s Le songe d’une nuit d’été (also 1947) recapture some of his earlier passion for a more art deco treatment.

Les aventures du Roi Pausole was produced, as Petit Voyage had been, by L’Estampe Moderne, in a boxed numbered edition of 524 copies. The colour work by Ateliers Saudé is particularly impressive.