Just off the Rue de Babylone, in a quiet room overlooking an enclosed garden, Michel Laurent Simon Béret carefully prepares preliminary sketches and then draws on the lithographic stone his opulent but fastidious flower fantasies to complete a series called Les bizarreries de la nature. Béret, Paris-born, studied a bit at the Beaux Arts, then went on to study and sketch on his own, turned to copper engraving and produced a succession of éditions de luxe: La grâce by Francis Jammes (1946), Images de Paris by Alexander Arnoux (1948), and a beautiful Sonnets of Ronsard (1950) among others. He has shown three exhibitions in Paris since 1945, is represented in collections of the Library of Congress and New York Public Library. The French Culture Centre in New York showed his engravings when Béret travelled in the United States.
In turning to lithography to illustrate Venise, Masques et Façades—an elegant oblong album with a text of André Fraigneau—Béret seemed to find his true vein, began to design these floral personages where the careful draughtsmanship and a sense of fantasy bright, sec, controlled, mark his descent from such individual French graphic masters as Callot and Grandville. Béret momentarily prepares a new showing for the Galerie Palmes in December and foresees a new project of an especially Gallic invention: the Seven Capital Sins seen as flowers.
Here, from Les bizarreries: (Above) Clorinde, the Courtisane of Italian Comedy, as a Dahlia. (Below) L’Homme de Cour in form of a Carnation, and L’Homme de Guerre shown as a Zinnia with bristling cape of Cardon leaves.