In his ultra rare Histoire de la princesse Boudour of 1926, François-Louis Schmied took a tale from One Thousand and One Nights and re-imagined as a sexually charged Art Deco tour de force.
The Swiss born French painter, wood engraver, printer, editor, bookbinder and illustrator François-Louis Schmied (1873-1941), was all about quality and definitely not quantity. He had an unusual modus operandi for a painter. He produced books. Extremely rare books.
A Schmied book was extremely expensive and time consuming to produce and was always printed in extremely limited edition. Schmied’s print runs usually numbered no more than 100-200 copies. His marketing strategy was to display sheets of his work in progress at an annual Parisian art fair and to procure subscriptions from wealthy bibliophiles and other parties.
In 1910 Schmied was commissioned to engrave and print illustrations by Paul Jouve for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. It took nine years. The book wasn’t finally published until 1919 and brought Schmied considerable attention. This success allowed Schmied to expand his operations, purchase a Stanhope handpress, and hire a group of craftsmen who helped him produce some of his most famous and pioneering works such as Histoire charmante de l’adolescente sucre d’amour (1927) and Histoire de la princesse Boudour (1926).
During the “Roaring 20s” he’d found suitable patrons lined up to sponsor him, but with the onset of The Great Depression, the economic climate could no longer support his expensive projects and eventually he was forced to sell off virtually all his assets and close down his workshop.
In 1924 Schmied handed over directorship of his studio to his son Théo, an accomplished engraver. Around 1931 or 1932, and for unknown reasons, Schmied was exiled to Morocco. He is considered a major artist in the Art Deco style, particularly in the area of publishing for bibliophiles. With his output being so very minimal it’s a rare as unicorn poo today and as such is highly collectable. Schmied’s work is seductive. His imagery oozes sublime Art Deco style combined with a racey and exotic, sexually charged aesthetic.
Schmied died at 68, in exile on January 1941 in Tahanaout, Morocco.
With Histoire de la princesse Boudour (History of the princess Badoura) Schmied is re-imagining & re-interpreting one of the many ancient Middle Eastern folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights.
In the Tales of the Arabian Nights, Badoura is a princess of China and the most beautiful woman ever seen upon the earth.