Adolphe Léon Willette (1857 – 1926) was a French painter, illustrator, caricaturist, and lithographer, as well as an architect of the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.
He studied for four years at the École des Beaux-Arts under Cabanel, training which gave him a unique position among the graphic humorists of France. Whether comedy or tragedy, dainty triviality or political satire, his work is instinct with the profound sincerity of the artist.
Always a poet, and usually gay, fresh, and delicate, in his presentation of idylls exquisitely dainty and characteristically Gallic, illustrating the more “charming” side of love, often pure and sometimes extremely materialistic. Willette frequently reveals himself bitter and fierce, even ferocious, in his hatreds, being violent though at the same time a generous partisan of political ideas, furiously compassionate with love and pity for the people whether they be ground down under the heel of political oppression, or are merely the victims of unrequited love, suffering all the pangs of graceful anguish that are born of scornful treatment. There is charm even in his thrilling apotheosis of the guillotine, and in the introduction into his caricatures of the figure of Death itself.
The artist was a prolific contributor to the French illustrated press under the pseudonyms “Cemoi”, “Pierrot”, “Louison”, “Bebe”, and “Nox”, but more often under his own name. He illustrated Melandri’s Les Pierrots and Les Giboulles d’avril, Le Courrier français, and published his own Pauvre Pierrot and other works.
His art show some connections with bdsm subjects, some real obvious, other more subtile.