Lucien Boucher’s Parisian shopfront lithographs are getting a brand new lease of life

An updated edition of the artist’s 1925 Boutiques book takes a look back at the heyday of the Paris high street, with stops at the boucherie, the boulangerie and, less familiar to us today, the triperie

Boucher’s lithographs were originally published in what is now a rare and sought-after limited edition, with his illustrations accompanied by surreal prose poems by Pierre Mac Orlan. This new version, published by The Mainstone Press, brings together 37 of the artist’s lithographs, which are no less vibrant or amusing now than they were almost 100 years ago.

They capture a rich part of Paris’ visual culture, celebrating the architecture, typography and window displays that characterised the city in the 1920s. Boucher imbued the works with huge amounts of charm, adding just enough detail to express the idiosyncrasies of each store – from the blond-wigged mannequin of the backstreet hairdresser, to the skinny dog eyeing up the offal in the tripe shop.

All images are taken from Boutiques by Lucien Boucher, © The Estate of Lucien Boucher

Many readers will be unacquainted with some of the individual stores, such as the above ‘triperie’ (offal shop), the wreath maker or Madame Floryse’s corset shop. However each location is accompanied by a mini essay that explains its historical context in what is often a strangely prosaic kind of poetry – for example, the “mutton curtains and piglet festoons” of the butchers.

Pierre Mac Orlan’s original prose poems are also reproduced and translated at the end of the book, along with photographs of real-life shopfronts, a surrealist’s guide to Paris written by art historian James Russell, and more information on Boucher’s career – which included making work for advertising and posters.

Boutiques is published as a limited edition of 500 by The Mainstone Press;