Works and Days - Les Travaux et les Jours

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
Jacques Villon (1875-1963)
Hesiod (8th century BC.)
1962, Paris
Translator’s Name: E. Bergougnan
Printed in one volume, size 38,8 x 29 cm.
The text is hand written with ‘romain de l’ université’ fonts
4 coloured original oxygraphs and 19 in the text original oxygraphs
Printed on ‘vélin de Rives’ paper:
  • 180 copies, numbered 1-180
  • 20 copies, off the market, numbered I-XX
  • 60 additional albums have been printed on ‘vélin de Rives’ paper which contain 23 original lithographs
Hesiod’s Works and Days is considered to be a monumental piece of poetry of the 8th century BC. Hesiod was probably born in Askra of Boeotia, Greece. His work considered being as significant as Homer’s; both of them regarded as martyrs of early ancient Greek literature. In Works and Days, we see a debate taking place between two brothers, the ‘good’ Hesiod and the ‘bad’ Persian. Through their dispute, the poet juxtaposes justice and injustice in relation to the state power. He also criticises kingship, which he considered an antiquated and useless institution. The poet, wishing to defend Hesiod and to oppose the unjust royal decision that favoured Persian, narrates the story of Prometheus and Pandora. He also recounts the myth of the five generations of mankind (golden, silver, bronze, iron and ‘the current one’). He tells the myth of the hawk and the nightingale and ends with the allegoric story of the ‘just city’ and the ‘city of hubris’. In this way, the poet justifies his thoughts and concludes in moral teachings, which prove the lawful power of justice.

This important work is accompanied by images that reveal the great talent and the classical spirit of Jacques Villon, an important French painter and engraver of the 20th century. His art is characterised by the combination of the different tendencies and techniques of modern art. His works are influenced by Cubism in matters of space and ‘correct’ representation, and by Naturalism in matters of colour and analytical precision. Particularly characteristic of his technique is the so-called method of cross-hatching, which depicts the shadows in subjects with parallel lines, which are continuously cut from other parallel ones. As a result, some of his works are less depictive and others lean towards naturalism and reality.

Jacques Villon draws rocks and skies, human figures and animals with precision and confidence, free and without any pressure. His intentions are to elucidate the text as much as possible. In an extreme, semiological economy of his expressive means, his lines are cut and broken. They compose a world that creates the impression of temporality. His outlines are spread out and give an impression of freedom. They seem to be looking for a new limit, either in the pages or in the imagination of the viewer. In his coloured engravings, the pure and clear colour leaves his palette; giving it freshness and adding intensity to the light of Greece. In his correctly set up images, the figures are represented with precision, the composition of the space becomes strict and all the lines form a unity with the colours and with the contrast that exists between black and white.