With the boudoir art movement ending, Louis Icart expanded his style into new areas. The influence of his oil painting and the impressionist styles of the time directly impacted his etchings. However, he also experimented with other directions, including reaching back to more art nouveau motifs. The “Icart Butterfly Women” series of 1936 epitomized this nod to the past. Although the series contained only four etchings, collectors seek them with passion. Each image was small, at approximately 6 1/2 inches x 8 3/4 inches, far below the average size. We do not have edition size records, but experts place that number at 150 or less.
First of all, Fluttering Butterfly depicts a lovely red-headed woman framed by the wings of a tiger swallowtail. The yellow, gold, and orange of the wings perfectly accentuate the hair and outfit of the model. Her arms stretch upward as if part of the wings themselves. Although she appears in a proud display pose, her laughing smile adds a simple and light-hearted feeling to the work.
The second is the first of the nudes, and it can be found in several different colors. Although usually in tones of blue, reddish tones as above do come to market occasionally. Even though the wings are actually that of a moth, the motif remains intact. She looks skyward in a proud display, no different than a peacock spreading feathers to attract a mate. “Choose me”, she seems to say, “and this will be yours”.
Woman in Wings displays the second nude in the series, however this one is coy. She shows her back, and hides her face under her arm. She requires some coaxing to become part of the the beautiful butterfly behind her. This image is often found with canary-yellow wings, but collectors tend to prefer the muted blue tones as above.
Finally, the last etching in the butterfly women series features a sleepy-eyed, yet sensuous model. Her arms pulled upward in an embrace, she beckons to pull you in. Her skin-tight outfit accentuates her figure, clearly the most overtly sexual of the series. Even though she remains the perfect close to the series, she proudly proclaims that Louis Icart could not be constrained by the shackles of boudoir art.