Chimot, Edouard

Chimot, Edouard (1880-1959)

To view all works by Edouard Chimot displayed on our website as either present or past stock click here: – Edouard Chimot Pictures

In a similar vein to his contemporary Louis Icart, Chimot was an artist of the female figure, of style, of eroticism, and was of the essence of art deco imagery. He was born in Lille in 1880 and moved to Paris in his early twenties. He did not make his mark as an artist at this time though. He worked in other occupations whilst drawing in his spare time and also teaching himself the art and techniques of print making. It was after military service in the First World War that Chimot returned to Paris and really made his mark, not only as an artist and illustrator, but also as an editor in publishing. An etching on our website ‘Hommage sympathique a M. Delas’ is probably from this period, though could also be an earlier work.

1920s Paris was effervescing into high times and into Art Deco. Around the beginning of this decade he received a number of commissions to illustrate books with his original etchings, the first of these being the limited edition and rare ‘Les Après-Midi de Montmartre’ (1919), with fourteen etchings by Chimot and a text by René Baudu. The images in this were of “petits filles perdus” and had already been made by him just before the outbreak of the war. Amongst others there were also ‘La Montée aux Enfers’ (The Ascent into Hell) and ‘Les Soirs d’Opium’  (Opium Evenings) written by Chimot’s friend the Symbolist poet and writer Maurice Magre. Magre was described in Le Figaro as “an anarchist, an individualist, a sadist, an opium addict……a great writer. You have to read his work”.(!)  Clearly Chimot was well and naturally connected with late Symbolist and Decadent culture and his own artwork is sometimes described as Post-Symbolist. Usually however there is not the right kind of imaginative content in his work to  mark him out as a Symbolist. He is very much an Art Deco artist. Another notable publication including his illustrations was ‘L’Enfer’ (Hell) by Henri Babusse. In this were twenty four etched plates by Chimot. With its theme of voyeurism the novel engendered scandal when it was translated into English.

In 1921 Chimot founded a magazine called ‘La Rosere: Revue des Arts et des Lettres’. Though this only lasted for one issue it was a sign of what was to come, as alongside his prolific work as an artist he increasingly became a presence in the world of publishing, beginning with Les Editions d’Art Devambez – producing limited edition art books. Some he illustrated himself such as ‘Les Chansons de Bilitis’ (1925) by Pierre Louys, a collection of erotic poetry with a predominantly lesbian content. (Other artists were also involved with different publications of the book, amongst them Louis Icart.)  Also ‘Les Belles de Nuit’, again by Magre (1929), and Paul Verlaine’s ‘Parallelement’ (1931).

The 1920s saw Chimot at his most innovative and successful. In 1931 he was the subject of a monograph published by Maurice Rat with his old friend Maurice Magre producing the preface. In 1929 Chimot at age 49 had been at the hight of his career, but then came the Wall Street Crash and along with the collapse of the financial system came a corresponding collapse in the desire and market for his work. Generally it is considered that Chimot’s output never again matched up to this period.

With the arrival of the 1930s and then the looming Second World War, Chimot and his young wife Loulou moved to Barcelona in Spain. He was very fond of Spain and had spent time there whilst working on his commission to illustrate another of Pierre Louys’ books ‘La Femme et le Pantin’. (This is a novel that in more recent times has been adapted for film, on one occasion starring Bridgitte Bardot, and also provided the narrative for Bunuel’s ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’ (1977).) The novel begins with a carnival scene in Seville and centres upon an Andalucian, flamenco femme fatale. Chimot’s illustrations, five lithographs, were printed in the 1937 publication of the book. (A Chimot work, in watercolour and crayon, showing this Spanish influence can be seen on this website ‘Nude Figure Study with Flamenco Dress’.)
Chimot later returned to Paris where he died in 1959.