The Imperial Menagerie

The Imperial Menagerie

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Title: The Imperial Menagerie, cover page.

Author : HADOL, known as WHITE Paul (1835 - 1875)

Creation date : 1870

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Colored lithograph.Full title: “The imperial menagerie, made up of ruminants, amphibians, carnivores and other budget-eaters which devoured France for 20 years”. (cover page).

Storage place: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 00-028982

The Imperial Menagerie, cover page.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: May 2006

Historical context

Caricature - from Italian caricare, "Charge, exaggerate" - is the most significant plastic expression of satire in graphics, painting and even statuary. It experienced a real boom in the XIXe century, a period during which the instability of institutions and the political unrest engendered by multiple changes of regime nourished the inspiration of talented designers such as Traviès, Daumier, Grandville, Gavarni, Cham, Gill and Alfred le Petit. At that time, in fact, satirical newspapers proliferated, such as Silhouette, The caricature, The Charivari, The moon or The Eclipse, to name only the most famous of them.

Measurement is foreign to caricature, which is a resolutely committed art. It was not until the very liberal press law of July 29, 1881 that the satirical verve of the cartoonists could once again be expressed fully and freely.

Image Analysis

The Imperial Menagerie, made up of ruminants, amphibians, carnivores and other budget-eaters who devoured France for 20 years is a collection of caricatures executed by Paul Hadol, dit White (1835-1875). The book appeared in 1870, after the fall of the Second Empire. Coming from the presses of the Coulboeuf printing press, it is made up of around thirty loose sheets 17 centimeters wide by 27 centimeters high.

On each sheet, the designer has produced the portrait-charge of a personality from the fallen imperial regime: the head with strongly accentuated features is grafted onto a zoomorphic body. Each character is decked out - menagerie obliges - with an animal name followed by two derogatory characteristics stigmatizing his real or supposed vices. The last pages of the collection constitute the Stuffed Museum : they bring together several figures per page in an environment worthy of the Natural History Museum.

The lithograph which is proposed here adorns the cover of the collection. The Republic, dressed in the antique style and wearing the traditional Phrygian cap, pushes aside the hanging of the circus supposed to house the "imperial menagerie". She invites the public to enter, pointing to the sign with a ruler. On the right, Napoleon III is depicted as a raptor. The cartoon is captioned "The great vulture of Sedan". It is also in the form of a vulture that the emperor is represented on the sheet dedicated to him in the collection. He is shown there cutting up a bloodless France which he holds in his talons. Paul Hadol imputes two vices to him: “Cowardice - Ferocity”.

Interpretation

The caricatures that make up The Imperial Menagerie imagined by Paul Hadol are of rare cruelty. Published after the fall of the empire, this satirical work is the plastic expression of the discredit and the stigma that hit the imperial regime after the defeat of Sedan. Napoleon III and his entourage are held solely responsible for a catastrophic war, which, however, public opinion and most politicians were largely in favor. The defeated ruler, prisoner, who was forced to surrender his sword to King William I of Prussiaer, looks like a coward. It was the start of what Jean des Cars called "the black legend of the Second Empire", a hated regime that was long considered an unfortunate parenthesis in the turbulent history of the 19th century.e century. However, it would be caricatural and reductive to limit the reign of Napoleon III to a frenzied and "budget-consuming" imperial festival, the Second Empire being precisely the period when France entered the era of economic modernism and technical and industrial progress.

  • allegory
  • caricature
  • imperial menagerie
  • Marianne
  • Napoleon III
  • Second Empire
  • court life
  • Louis Philippe

Bibliography

Annie DUPRAT, History of France through caricature, Paris, Larousse, 1999.Annie DUPRAT, “Historical iconology of political caricature in France from the 16th to the 20th century”, in review Hermes n ° 29, May 2001.Philippe KAENEL, The profession of illustrator. 1830-1880, Paris, Editions Messenne, 1996.Bertrand TILLIER, Zola's Pig, or the Caricatured Misfortunes of a Committed Writer, Paris, Séguier, 1998.Bertrand TILLIER, The Republican Republic: political caricature in France, Paris, C.N.R.S. Editions, 1997.Bertrand TILLIER, In charge! Caricature in France from 1789 to 2000, Paris, Amateur Edition, 2005.

To cite this article

Alain GALOIN, "The Imperial Menagerie"


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