Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

The Human Comedy: Chronicles of 19th-Century France

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Political and Social Satire

CARICATURE Charles Philipon (1800-1862) was the editor of Le Charivari (1832-1893), one of the papers that launched the satirical press in France. The term charivari describes the loud clatter of pots and pans one makes at the windows of unpopular people. The staunchly Republican Philipon used his paper to rattle the windows of King Louis-Philippe until new censorship laws forced him to find more indirect means of criticizing the regime. In the more than 4,000 original lithographs he produced for the Le Charivari and other periodicals, Honoré Daumier studied the “manners” or customs, values, norms, and behaviors of French society as he saw it. During times of press censorship, Daumier focused on scenes of everyday life—providing satirical depictions of French society, often through emblematic types. Daumier developed social types to describe distinct political periods: Robert Macaire (1835–38), the con man and swindler of King Louis-Philippe’s July Monarchy; Ratapoil (1850–52), the propagandist thug who helped Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte rise to power; and Joseph Prudhomme (1852–70), the self-satisfied bourgeois who reigned supreme under the Second Empire of Napoléon III (1852–70).

  1. Political and Social Satire

  2. Aspiring Courtesans

  3. Bachelor Life and Married Life

  4. Social Types

  5. Fashion

  6. Leisure

  7. Paris Carnival

  8. Haussmannization

  9. Family Life