THE COMIC ART OF JOSEPH HÉMARD: Medicine & Miscellany

Two years after illustrating the French family code, Hémard figured, why not illustrate a pharmacy manual? In 1927, his publisher, René Kieffer, published Formulaire Magistral, in identical format to the Code Civil, consisting of an illustrated technical manual of medicinal formulas. These included medicines for curing tapeworms, venereal disease, and other wretched maladies, which gave Hémard incomparable material for crude and disgusting, but, above all, hilarious illustrations.

Formulaire Magistral. 1927. Pochoir. Collection of Farley P. Katz.

Hémard’s interest in medicine led him to illustrate (and even write) other medical works, including a promotional pamphlet concerning the prostate.

 

Joseph Hémard, Physiologie de la Prostate. 1937. Collection of Farley P. Katz.

Scènes de la Vie Médical. 1939. Pochoir? Collection of Farley P. Katz.

Hémard’s apparent willingness to accept any paying commission produced illustrations for a great variety of miscellaneous works including calendars, utility promotions, menus, letterheads, and bookplates. Shown here is Les Reves la Destinée, a “dream book,” in which the reader can find the meaning of his dreams (possibly authored by Hémard).

 

Les Reves la Destinée [dream book]. Circa 1931. Collection of Farley P. Katz.

Finally, we have Hémard’s own bookplate, depicting himself as a naked caveman pondering an open book he has chanced upon.

Bookplate of Joseph Hémard. Collection of Farley P. Katz.

“ ‘And then I drew for books’: The Comic Art of Joseph Hémard,” curated by Farley P. Katz and Mike Widener, is on display Sept. 15 - Dec. 15, 2012, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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