About the artist
Félicien Rops (1833 – 1898) was a Belgian artist, known primarily as a printmaker in etching and aquatint.
He was born in Namur and the son of a textile manufacturer. After he studied at a local art academy, he moved to Brussels at the age of twenty and briefly attended the University of Brussels. Next he studied at the Académie de Saint-Luc and began to produce illustrations, contributing some of his finest lithographs to the satirical journal Uylenspiegel between 1859–1860.
About 1860 he went to Paris, where he worked in the studio of Henri-Alfred Jacquemart. Returning to Brussels, he established the short-lived International Society of Etchers. In 1865 he produced his celebrated “Absinthe Drinker” and in 1871 “Lady with the Puppet.”
After 1874 Rops lived in Paris, where he became a friend of the poet Charles Baudelaire. Rops created the frontispiece for Baudelaire's Les Épaves, a selection of poems from Les Fleurs du mal. He was closely affiliated with the literary movement of Symbolism and Decadence. Rops was one of the founding members of Société Libre des Beaux-Arts of Brussels (Free Society of Fine Arts, 1868–1876) and Les XX ("The Twenty", formed 1883). He kept up his literary associations until his death.
Félicien Rops was also a freemason and a member of the Grand Orient of Belgium. Many of Rops’s etchings are erotic or in tone and depict subjects of social decadence, death or satanism. Rops was a printmaker of brilliant technique whose handling of dry point (etching directly on the plate) marks him as one of the masters of the medium. He was also one of the first modern etchers to revive the medium of soft-ground etching, in which the etching ground is mixed with tallow, producing the effect of lines drawn with a soft pencil or chalk.