Jean Cocteau, 1889-1963

Tête de Poète et Portrait d' Arthur Rimbaud. 1960.


Original lithograph in colours. 1960. Signed in red crayon. Numbered 49 in pencil from the edition 97 on wove paper. (There were also 7 impressions on japan paper – a total edition of 197). Drawn at the studio of Mourlot, Paris in 1960. Issued in the series:  Arthur Rimbaud Vu par les Peintres Contemporains, Nice 1962.

Excellent impression with strong fresh colours. On pale cream wove Rives paper. Excellent condition; a slight trace of old mounting on the reverse. Sheet; 485 x 368 mm. Image:  260 x 165 mm


In his writing Cocteau, like many of the early 20th century Surrealist writers and poets, was greatly influenced by the revolutionary 19th century poetry of Rimbaud. Rimbaud wrote his literature-changing poems such as ‘Saison en Enfer’, ‘L’Eternité’ and ‘Le Bateau Ivre’ at a very young age in the 1870’s. Breaking-away from a conventional upbringing in north-eastern France he fled to Paris and a life as a libertine and alcoholic, stating that only through experiencing every form of love, of suffering, of madness can the poet find true expression.

In the 1920’s and 30’s this writing had a huge influence on Cocteau and in the 1960’s his inscriptions on this homage to Rimbaud encapsulate that debt:  Il a foudroyé la Sottise – He struck-down all Stupidity. Il a Fui les Ignobles – He escaped the Despicable. It is these thoughts that he wraps around the profile of Orpheus , the mythical Greek god who spoke through poetry and music.

Elle est retrouvée,                           It is Found again.

Quoi? – L’Eternité.                           What? Eternity.

C’est la mer allée                            It is the Sea

Avec le Soleil.                                Gone with the Sun.                         (Rimbaud . L’Eternité. 1872)


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