Georges Courteline in 1910

Georges Courteline (1858–1929), whose real name was Georges Victor Marcel Moinaux, was a French dramatist and novelist, a satirist notable for his sharp wit and cynical humour. His family moved from Tours in Indre-et-Loire to Paris shortly after his birth, then during the time of the Paris Commune, at the age of thirteen, he was sent to school in Meaux. After graduating in 1876 he went on to serve in the French military before taking a job as a civil servant. Interested in poetry and authorship, he became involved in writing poetry reviews. By the 1890s he had begun writing plays under the name Courteline for the theatres of Montmartre where he lived.

Gifted with a quick wit, he became a leading dramatist, producing many plays as well as a number of novels. The overall tone of his works is satirical in nature, often making fun of everything from the wealthy elites of Paris to bloated government bureaucracies. In 1899 Courteline was awarded the Legion of Honour, and in 1926 was elected to the Académie Goncourt.

By the time Éditions du Trianon published this edition of his collected works, Courteline was one of the best known writers of his time, and in all probability knew Joseph Hémard personally. Their world views were similar, familiar with the foibles of French life and equally caustic. As a collaboration the pairing is perfect.

Illustrated here are his novels, including Les gaités de l’escadron (Cheerleaders of the Squadron, 1886), Le Train de 8 heures 47 (The 8.47 Train,1888), Messieurs les ronds-de-cuir (Gentlemen Penpushers, 1893), and Les linottes (The Scatterbrains, 1912), together with all his plays and poems.

Only a few of these colourful and distinctive plates could be said to be erotic, but we have chosen to include them all because they are some of Hémard’s best work, from the height of his career, and expertly reproduced by a quality Paris publisher. Their composition and colouring is second to none of the period, demonstrating perfectly the highly-skilled technique of pochoir printing.

The eight-volume Œuvres complètes illustrées de Georges Courteline was published by Éditions du Trianon.