This important portrait of Wilhelm de Kostrowitsky, known as Guillaume Apollinaire, was begun in 1912 but left unfinished during the war. It was resumed and finished in 1920 (hence the two dates in the plate lower right) after the poet's death. Marcoussis would later complete another three portraits of him; a lithograph published in a special separate number of L'Esprit Nouveau (M. 38), a woodcut (M. 43) and an etching featured in the album 'Eaux-Fortes pour Alcools' (M. 113). In the same album the figure of Apollinaire also appears represented incarcerated in the prison La Sante (M. 144 and 145).
A text by Marcoussis, written at the bequest of the Belgian collector René Gaff, is illustrated with a sketch showing the poet. He writes of the circumstances in which Apollinaire had first decided to name his collection of poetry Eau-de-Vie (a type of French Schnapps) and had asked Marcoussis to etch this title onto one of the books shown in the bookcase.