The Bestiaire and its Influence

During the early days of Dufy’s collaboration with Paul Poiret, he met Guillaume Apollinaire. The illustrations he created for Apollinaire’s Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée formed the basis for many of his later textile designs for Bianchini-Férier.

The wood engravings for the Bestiaire fully reveal Dufy’s capacity for original creation. Placing himself in the tradition of the wood engravers of the past, he brought a highly ingenious style to the discipline, along with considerable mastery and a remarkable sense of his materials and tools. While satisfying his own liking for decorative art, he also provided a formal equivalent for the spirit of Apollinaire’s quatrains.

Some of his wood engravings for Le Bestiaire were used as the inspiration for fabric designs after World War I and during the early 1920s. Fabrics such as Pégase, Les fruits d’Europe, La jungle, and Les tortues were directly inspired by these earlier illustrations, and Dufy re-invented and transformed them into beautiful decorative fabrics that could be produced in many different color paths and combinations, and in both printed and woven fabrics.

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