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Shameful Felicien Rops

Shameful Felicien Rops

Félicien Rops (Namur 1833-1898 Essonne) was a Belgian engraver, draftsman and painter. Despite his Catholic background, he led an unconventional life, commuting between his hometown, the castle of Thozée (30 km from Namur), Brussels and Paris, where he would eventually make a career. At a time when church beliefs and dogmas were under pressure from the rising rationalism, Rops made satirical prints at a young age in which he exposed the hypocrisy of the church and the facade of the bourgeoisie. These prints were published in his own magazine Uylenspiegel, financed with money inherited during his studies in Brussels. He would later return regularly to the same city as a member of Les Vingt.

Félicien Rops distinguished himself as an extraordinary engraver and draftsman who cast aside the conventions of his time. His mise-en-scenes radiated tenderness, humor and brutality; a true visual feast for the viewer. Although of course there was also shame about it. His creations, often satanic and slightly pornographic, brought the mystery of women to life in a modern way. His art, dedicated to seduction and evil, symbolized the tense male-female relationship at a time when eroticism and seduction were viewed with suspicion.

Félicien Rops enjoyed considerable popularity in artistic circles, especially among well-known writers such as Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, Voltaire and Gustave Flaubert. Composers such as Franz Liszt and Gabriel Fauré, as well as artists such as Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin, also admired his work and letters. By 1878 he was Paris's highest-paid illustrator, illustrating works such as "Les épaves," a selection from Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du mal." Rops, however, cherished his anonymity and did not desire fame among the mass of decent and honest people, for which he had an aversion. There is a Felicien Rops museum in Namur with more than 3,000 etchings and 500 drawings and paintings. There is also a lot of attention for his many letters, which show that he also had great writing talent there.

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