Felicien Rops

December 15, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Many apologies for not posting in a while. It’s been one of those horrible couple of weeks where real life has to take priority over artistic pursuits. I hate it when that happens. Anyway, I return from the tawdry realms of reality bearing gifts in the form of more decadent artwork for your viewing pleasure. And this time it’s the turn of Paris-based Belgian graphic artist, Felicien Rops (1833-1898).

portrait of Rops

'Felicien Rops in his Studio' by Paul Mathey

I must confess that until fairly recently I wasn’t really a fan of Rops’ work. I admired him stylistically, but there was something about his tendency to portray women like slabs of meat put me off. However, I have recently changed my mind completely. I suppose I never realised just how much of a sense of humour Rops had – his highly controversial works really are dripping in irony, and the themes of explicit sexuality and the occult set out to deliberately provoke the society that condemned him.

the incantation

The Incantation

woman on a rocking horse

Woman on a Rocking Horse

frontspiece for Les Diaboliques

Frontspiece for Les Diaboliques by Barbey d'Aurevilly



Fairy of Love

Fairy of Love

He has had several imitators, but none of them have come close to the original outrageousness of Rops. He played upon the clichés of the Symbolist movement, exploiting all that was controversial about it to the utmost limits, filling his graphic art with sex, death and the devil. Consider me thoroughly converted.



  1. melmoth said,

    There are few things in life as satisfying as changing one’s mind completely about something. Academia has brushed Rops under the carpet these days- so what greater recommendation can there be? In his own time Rops was revered like few others. Peladan wrote-

    “Felicien Rops is unknown to the public. But while he may have no reputation he has fame. Three hundred subtle minds admire and love him, and this approbation of thinkers is all that matters to this master; if a man of the middle classes, one of those for whom popular works are written and who actually read them, should happen to show a liking for one of his works, he would immediately destroy it. As a practician of art, he wishes for no other judges but his peers, and not out of pride. The best token of his modesty is the fact that he is so little known, and that is how he wants it to be, because he knows that art is a druidic cult which receives into its ranks all minds that rise high enough…”

    “…art is a druidic cult…”? Well now you know! Rops was adored by his peers. Now he has none. Adepts of beauty and blasphemy should seek out the works under the title ‘Les Sataniques.’

  2. Decadent Handbook said,

    Thank you for posting that amazing quote! And you’re quite right – one should never trust popular opinion when it comes to art and culture. Anyway, something tells me that Rops would have most disappointed if he ever gained real popularity – it seems to me that he set out to provoke the plebians as much as possible!

    • melmoth said,

      For instance, Edward Lucie-Smith’s contention that Ensor is ‘the much greater’ really boils my absinthe! An academic opinion if ever there was one, an opinion tempered by a banal sense of self conscious historicity. Nothing is so vulgar and unimaginative as a sense of posterity- Rop’s art is no less impossible today as the day it was made; always too extreme to be accommodated it remains vital and provocative, a quality that his flacid contemporaries lack.

  3. rops said,

    Specially the second and the third photos are really amazing and show wonderful creativity. It looks like photos show some of secret stories.

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