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GEORGE BARBIER (1882 - 1932) Lykas, The Songs of Bilitis
watercolour and Chinese ink on paper 10 x 17 cm Executed in 1914 ‘Les Chansons de Bilitis’ (‘The Songs of Bilitis’) is a collection of erotic and passionate poems by Pierre Louÿs published in Paris in 1894. Louÿs presented it as a translation of intimate thoughts and public actions of an ancient Greek poetess called Bilitis. But even Bilitis existed only in the imagination of her creator Pierre Louÿs, she became one of the most famous characters in the literature of the Belle Époque. ‘Les Chansons de Bilitis’ were illustrated by many artists such as George Barbier who contributed to the popularity of the work during the Art Deco period. "Come, we will stray in the ﬁelds, under the juniper bushes; we will eat honey fresh from the hive and make grasshopper traps from the daffodil stems. Come, we’ll see Lykas, who watches his father’s flocks on the shadowy slopes of the Tauros. Surely he’ll give us some milk. I can hear his flute even now. He plays so cleverly. Here are the dogs and the lambs, and there he leans against a tree. Is he not even as fair as Adonis? Oh, Lykas, give us some milk. Here are some ﬁ gs from our trees. We have come to stay with you. Oh! bearded nannies, do not leap so high, lest you soon excite the restless goats."