SEM'S "ALBUMS OF PARISIAN LIFE AUTHENTICALLY REFLECT THE PHYSIOGNOMY OF THE FAMOUS ERA OF THE 1900S": FOUR PORTFOLIOS BY SEM, WITH HAND-COLORED POCHOIR ILLUSTRATIONS OF FASHION, CELEBRITIES, THE NIGHTLIFE, AUTOMOBILES, AND MORE
GOURSAT, Georges, a.k.a. "SEM." Four Portfolios: Sem a la Mer; Tangoville sur Mer; Le Vrai et le Faux Chic; Célébrités Contemporaines et la Bénédictine par Sem. Paris: Succès, 1912, 1913, 1914, no date. Four volumes. Three volumes folio, one quarto; original printed paper wrappers or portfolios. $6000.
First editions of four portfolios of illustrations of French high-society figures and fashions of the Belle Epoque by renowned French illustrator and caricaturist SEM (Georges Goursat), three folio and one quarto, each with color illustrations, many colored by hand using the pochoir, or stencil, technique.
Georges Goursat, or "Sem" (1863-1934), hobnobbed with Parisian high society at fashionable events in casinos, cabarets, restaurants and cafes around the turn of the last century, the Belle Epoque. He drew numerous caricatures of his contemporaries, published in newspapers such as L'Illustration and Le Rire, or in albums of his own, such as the four on offer here. "Sem had a remarkable ability to capture the characteristic feature of the face rather than providing its likeness. His albums of Parisian life authentically reflect the physiognomy of the famous era of the 1900s" (Benezit, XII, 981).
Sem a la Mer features numerous black-and-white and color illustrations on 38 folio pages of people in Deauville, the prestigious seaside resort in Normandy, during the summer of 1912, in original color-illustrated wrappers. Tangoville sur Mer contains numerous pochoir color illustrations on 46 folio pages—two double-page and folding, making for a splendid 48-inch by 18-inch spread—also in original color-illustrated wrappers. Le Vrai et le Faux Chic with 17 folio pages of fashion plates with pochoir color illustrations, as well as numerous hand-colored in-text illustrations, in the original illustrated portfolio decorated with an embossed scissors motif. Célébrités Contemporaines features eight pochoir illustrations of celebrities drinking Benedictine. Tangoville sur Mer and Le Vrai et le Faux Chic also contain illustrated advertisements for automobiles. Text in French. Tangoville sur Mer with many of the personages identified in pencil in a neat contemporary hand.
Interiors clean and fine, colors vivid. Light wear to wrappers or portfolios, Tangoville sur Mer with red stain to rear wrapper. A generally clean and near-fine collection of delightfully illustrated portfolios from the Belle Epoque.