Monday, April 24, 2017

The Innocent Nymph ou Le Retour du Poilu by Georges Léonnec


This illustration appeared in French magazine La Vie Parisienne after the end of the Great War, in May 1919.  It shows the God Pan playing his pipes to an imploring nymph.  Poilu means hairy one, which can well apply to Pan but was also the nickname of French infantry troops during the war.  Looking a bit more closely you can see the folded horizon bleu uniform and characteristic French Adrian helmet. The Nymph is saying, in the text which was under the picture,  "Play me, I beg you, a tango tune!" Does the fact that she is dubbed 'an innocent nymph' say anything about t e fate of young girls welcoming back their now battle-worn men?  Transformed, perhaps into something rather different to that which they were when they left home.  Something dangerous and less gentlemanly, perhaps, to innocent young women...

Georges Léonnec (1881-1940) served in the war himself before returning to Paris to illustrate magazines like La Vie Parisienne, Le Sourire and Fantasio.

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