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Subota, 22 Maj 2021 11:22

Social caricature Gargantua by Honoré Daumier Istaknut

The French painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and caricaturist Honoré Daumier began to create his satirical works in 1830, at the time when lithographer, caricaturist, and journalist Charles Philipon founded the satirical political journal La Caricature, in which he combined journalism and the art of caricature. In 1831, he drew a caricature of King of the French Louis Philippe as Gargantua, the namesake from Rabelais' 16th century series of novels, which tells of the adventures of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. The caricature appeared in the December 15th, 1831 edition of La Caricature and was displayed in the window of La Caricature office in the Gallery Vero. The lithograph of this caricature is housed in the National Library in Paris.

In the caricature of Gargantua Honoré Daumier depicts the extreme selfishness, cruelty, and invulnerability of King of the French Louis Philippe. The king is represented as a giant gourmand who is sitting in front of the National Assembly on a large throne, which is a giant commode and swallowing bags of coins which have been extracted from the poor by his ministers and which are carried by lilliputian personnages up a plank that stretches from the ground to his mouth. On the lower right, a crowd of his poverty-stricken subjects stands waiting miserably to turn over what little money they have. Above the heads of the poor tax-givers are windmills and buildings of a port. By the feet of the king are well-dressed men with their tricorn hats who are availing themselves of any coins which may fall from the servants' baskets as they stagger upwards towards the king's mouth. Under the king's throne papers fluttering down and it is Daumier's unsavory way of showing the king "issuing" documents granting honors and privileges to the chosen few below. On the left of the painting people, upper-middle-class collected their documents of privileges running off towards the National Assembly.

Gargantua's caricature was not well received by the authorities. Because of this drawing portraying the king in an unfavorable light, Honoré Daumier was imprisoned for six months at prison Saint Pelagic. After his release and return to society, the journal that published Daumier's works, La Caricature, soon after discontinued circulation, and Honoré Daumier continued to criticize the regime and society.

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