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Le buveur civilisé

June 28th, 2010

As Sacha and I are packing to move this week, I came across some old boxes and envelopes in a third floor closet in what was once my studio stuffed with ephemera and maps and cards and stuff from the halcyon Paris days of 1988-89. I was quite the acquirer back then, filling up large envelopes and small boxes of various printed matter, which I would then pour over now and then. A lot of it was surprisingly influential on how I drew and what I drew back then, in the formative years, and I was very happy to find it all. Like running into an old friend.

One of my favorite pieces in the entire mess is this little collection of cards I kept from a visit to Lyon France in 1989. I was there with one of my instructors at Parsons, bill butt, as we were working on a calendar design project. We had lunch at a bistro called Le Bouchon aux Vins (which basically translates to The Wine Stopper, where a “stopper” is a cork). In the breadbaskets were these small cards, about 2.5 by 3 inches, with what I thought were some beautiful illustrations. We noticed that they were a series so I went table to table and collected all nine of them.
They are essentially humorous instructions for drinking wine called Le Buveur Civilisé, or The Civilized Drinker. Each card depicts a step in the routine, from uncorking the wine, looking at it, smelling it, tasting it, and finally appreciating the wine.

The illustrations are lovely in their clean, thin lines and simple color scheme. The expressions of the drinkers’ are exaggerated but just barely, and the compositions are spot on. I’ve always wondered who the artist is, but I cannot make sense of the signature and Google has nothing. If you happen to know, drop a comment below. Edit: The illustrations are by Charles Martin, a French illustrator who died in 1934. Jouir, et merci!