Portrait of L-J Soulas by Jean-Eugne Bersier

In 1950, on October 22, Maurice Genevoix appointed Louis-Joseph Soulas Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration in France. Referring to the colour of the award he had just been given, Soulas pointed out with humour, that if fate had made him a farmer "... the ribbon, instead of being red, would have been green... But fate has decided in another way. Still, the "leek" could come by the red ribbon, since a part of my merit (if I have some) remains agricultural". *

In 1951, Louis-Joseph published an anthology of poems in prose, entitled Les Btes de la Nuit that he had written and illustrated with twenty-one copper engravings. Some parts were derived from his own imagination, with surrealistic stories made from memories, and fantasy tales inspired from his childhood dreams... This book was to be one of his very last works.

Indeed, on March 26th 1954, as he hurried to catch the train bringing him back to Orlans, he collapsed in Austerlitz station in Paris, struck dead by a heart attack. One of the best engravers of his century and one of the highest figures of burin in France had just passed away at 49 years old.

He left a work of thirty illustrated books and nearly five hundred engraved woodcuts.

* The Ordre National du Mrite Agricole is an order of merit established in France in 1883 to reward services to agriculture. Its ribbon is moir pattern green. Holders are said to "avoir le poireau", or "have a leek" , in reference to its colour.