Félicien Rops

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Félicien Rops
Félicien Rops.jpg
Detail from The Members of the
Société Libre des Beaux-Arts

by Edmond Lambrichs
Born(1833-07-07)7 July 1833
Died23 August 1898(1898-08-23) (aged 65)
Known forPrintmaking, etching
Notable work
MovementDecadent movement

Félicien Rops (7 July 1833 – 23 August 1898) was a Belgian artist, known primarily as a printmaker in etching and aquatint. He is noted for his drawings depicting erotic and Satanic themes.[1] Rops is furthermore important for being a pioneer in Belgian comics.[2]

Early life[edit]

Rops was born in Namur, the only son of Sophie Maubile and Nicholas Rops,[3] who was a textile manufacturer.[4] After his first artistic training at a local academy, he relocated to Brussels at the age of twenty[4] and briefly attended the University of Brussels,[5] he subsequently attended the Académie de Saint-Luc and began creating satirical lithographs which were published in the student magazine Le Crocodile. These and the lithographs he contributed until 1862 to the magazine Uylenspiegel brought him early fame as a caricaturist.[4]

In 1857, he married Charlotte Polet de Faveaux, with whom he had two children, Paul and Juliette (the latter died at a young age),[3] he produced a number of etchings as illustrations for books by Charles de Coster. In 1862 he went to Paris where he met the etchers Félix Bracquemond and Jules Ferdinand Jacquemart, his activity as a lithographer ceased about 1865, and he became a restless experimenter with etching techniques.[4]

Felicien Rops in his Studio by Paul Mathey.

Relationship with Baudelaire[edit]

Rops met Charles Baudelaire towards the end of the poet's life in 1864, and Baudelaire left an impression upon him that lasted until the end of his days.[6] Rops created the frontispiece for Baudelaire's Les Épaves, a selection of poems from Les Fleurs du mal that had been censored in France, and were therefore published in Belgium.

His association with Baudelaire and with the art he represented won his work the admiration of many other writers, including Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Stéphane Mallarmé, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, and Joséphin Péladan, he was closely associated with the literary movement of Symbolism and Decadence.

Later life[edit]

After the failure of his marriage, Rops moved to Paris in 1874,[7] where he lived with two sisters, Aurélie and Léontine Duluc. With Léontine, he had one daughter, Claire,[8] who went on to marry the Belgian author Eugène Demolder.

Rops was one of the founding members of Société Libre des Beaux-Arts of Brussels (Free Society of Fine Arts, 1868–1876) and Les XX ("The Twenty", formed 1883). Rops's eyesight began to fail in 1892, he kept up his literary associations until his death.

Félicien Rops was a freemason and a member of the Grand Orient of Belgium. [9]

In 1889, he was awarded the Légion d'honneur.


Like the works of the authors whose poetry he illustrated, his work tends to mingle sex, death, and irreligious images. According to Edith Hoffmann, the "erotic or frankly pornographic" nature of much of Rops's work "is at least partly due to the attraction these subjects had for a provincial artist who never forgot his first impressions of Paris".[4][10] Europe's first talking film The Blue Angel was largely inspired by a figure by Rops that impressed director Josef von Sternberg.

Rops often combined soft-ground etching—a technique practiced by few artists of his day—with mezzotint or aquatint and sometimes added hand-coloring to his plates, his etchings were popular and influenced many younger artists, including Symbolists such as Edvard Munch and Max Klinger.[4]


Rops also drew several text comics and sequential drawings in the 1850s and 1860s for the Belgian student magazine Le Crocodile and the satirical publication L'Uylenspiegel. [11]



  1. ^ https://www.lambiek.net/artists/r/rops_felicien.htm
  2. ^ https://www.lambiek.net/artists/r/rops_felicien.htm
  3. ^ a b Bonnier, B.; Maliconi, N.; Carpiaux, V. "Félicien Rops Biography 1833-1861". Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hoffmann, Edith, "Rops, Félicien", Oxford Art Online
  5. ^ Rops, Félicien, and Brison, Charles (1969). Pornocrates: an introduction to the life and work of Felicien Rops, 1833-1898. Skilton. p. 10.
  6. ^ "Biography of Félicien Rops" (PDF). Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Rops, Félicien". 21 March 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Félicien Rops Biography 1874-1888". Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Félicien Rops (1833-1898)". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2008.[not in citation given]
  10. ^ Gallagher, Paul (29 November 2016). "Blasphemy, Sex, Satanism and Sadism: The diabolic erotic art of Félicien Rops (NSFW)". dangerousminds.net. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Rops’ work has been described as blasphemous, sadistic, sexist, misogynistic, pornographic, debased and even cruel
  11. ^ https://www.lambiek.net/artists/r/rops_felicien.htm


  • P. & V. Berko, "Dictionary of Belgian painters born between 1750 & 1875", Knokke 1981, p. 565-566.
  • P. & V. Berko, "19th Century European Virtuoso Painters", Knokke 2011, p. 513, illustrations p. 145.

External links[edit]