In Focus

La Revue Blanche

The Revue Blanche was one of the most influential artistic and literary journals in Europe at the turn of the century. Founded in Liège and Paris by the Natanson brothers, Alfred, Alexander, and Thadée, the journal was published in twelve editions, appeared between 1891 and 1903. It was a tremendously influential vehicle for Symbolist writers and Post-Impressionist painters. Among its celebrated authors were André Gide, Stéphane Mallarmé, Leo Tolstoy, Félix Fénéon, Marcel Proust, Paul Verlaine, Oscar Wilde, Charles Peguy, Francis Viele-Griffin, Remy de Gourmont, Emile Zola, and Alfred Jarry were among the contributors.

Many of the visual artists whose work appeared in La Revue Blanche were members of the Nabis. Inspired by Paul Gauguin and the Synthetic style developed within his circle in the late 1880s-early 1890s, the Nabis sought to simplify forms through flat areas of subjective, non-descriptive color bordered by linear patterns. Printmaking was a very important part of their artistic activity and they contributed prints for publication as covers and illustrations for La Revue Blanche and other like-minded periodicals. Along with their contemporary, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, many of the artists turned their enormously sophisticated manipulation of color lithography to the service of commercial advertising projects.

In 1895, the Parisian publishers L'Estampe originale released L'Album de La Revue Blanche in an edition of 110 lithographs and included a cover designed by Pierre Bonnard, who also contributed the concluding print, Woman with an Umbrella. Many of the prints were frontispieces that had been published in the review between July 1893 and July 1984, including Félix Vallotton's Three Bathers, Maurice Denis' The Visitation, Paul Ranson's The Reclining Reader, Charles Cottet's Breton Women, Paul Sérusier's The Candy Seller with an Umbrella, Henri Gabriel Ibels' Peasant with a Basket, József Rippl-Rónai's Reader with a Lamp, Edouard Vuillard's The Dressmaker, Toulouse-Lautrec's Carnival, Ker-Xavier Roussel's The Phantom, and Odilon Redon's Winged Horse. The subjects suggest the range of these artists's interests: the beloved peasant subjects from Brittany, highly stylized street scenes and landscapes, intimate interiors of women reading or sewing, the theater, and mystical subjects. The portfolio offers a rich overview of twelve of the most important Nabis and Symbolist artists of the late nineteenth century.

Adapted from

  • Dorothy Kosinski, DMA unpublished material, 2006.

  • DMA Label text, 2010.

Fun Facts

  • In 1895, La Revue Blanche began including special sections called "Nib" (French slang term for "nothing doing"). These supplements contained black and white lithographs by avant-garde artists.

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