Monday Lectures

1 March 2021

The Golden Age of French Caricature 1: From Daumier to Le Petit, 1830-1880

Honoré Daumier, The Past, the Present, the Future

(Caricature of King Louis-Philippe) Lithograph, 1834.

The elimination of the press censorship laws (albeit briefly) under King Louis-Philippe in the 1830s and their permanent abolition under the Third Republic in 1881, launched in France what will prove to be the golden age of the press.  The invention of a new printing technique for the mass production of images in the late 18th century – lithography – also enabled the new periodicals, to furnish their readers with a great wealth and variety of illustration.

 

The turbulent politics and many revolutions of the 19th century strongly favored the emergence of political satire and caricature, in which the high and mighty of each successive regime were mercilessly mocked in the opposition papers. The new urban middle class and its fashionable pretensions also became a favorite target of the caricaturists of the 19th century, whereas towards the end of the era, the rise of socialist and anarchist challenges to the social and economic order, opened the gates to ferocious caricatures of Capitalist society.

 

 

In our lecture we will present the principal French illustrators of the century, beginning, of course with the father of modern caricature, the celebrated Honoré Daumier, but also his lesser known, if equally talented colleagues, Paul Gavarni,  André GillAlfred le PetitCharles Léandre and more. We will also discover the principal illustrated periodicals of the day from the famous Charivari to Gill’s La Lune. 

Alfred Le Petit - Les Contemporains N. 29

Édouard Manet  1876