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Looking Awry at Georgian Caricature

Lacan and the Satirists

David Morgan

This article investigates the applicability of certain aspects of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the study of visual satire and/or caricature. Lacan’s treatment of the phenomenon of visual anamorphosis can provide a fruitful new way of thinking about the art of caricature. The visual exaggerations and distortions central to the art of caricature function as they do, as works of social or political satire, by virtue of the extent to which they expose the psychological emptiness or hollowness (castration) which inheres in all human social or symbolic activity. This argument is then applied to the political circumstances prevailing in late Georgian England: in particular, the visual satirical treatment devoted to the nature and status of the monarchy during this period is examined in the light of foregoing arguments.

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Introduction

Caricature

The Editors

The history of European comic art is closely intertwined with that of caricature. The comic books by Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe Töpffer – his romans en estampes [‘novels in engravings’] – which are foundational to the medium, are essentially extended caricatures of social types (they have been called romans en caricatures [‘caricature novels’]): the limited but common-sensical father (Crépin); the flighty naturalist (Vieux Bois); the domineering financée (Elvire); the prodigal son and revolutionary (Albert); the bumbling, pretentious social climber (Jabot); etc. Together these constitute a continuation, in bande dessinée, of the passing portraits with which he scatters his Voyages en zigzig (1832 onwards). The latter in turn follow the tradition of Thomas Rowlandson’s The Tour of Doctor Syntax (1812, in French from 1821), which is linked to the ‘narrative series’ of engravings by William Hogarth, for whom Töpffer professed great admiration (Töpffer’s own father also drew caricatures). They have all been traced back to Charles Le Brun’s Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions [‘Method for Learning to Draw the Passions’], first published in 1702, in which the artist explores the way physical appearance can depict interior morality.

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Caroline Rossiter

This article analyses the production of caricatures in post-revolutionary Paris, specifically the role of publishers and artists and the constraints of censorship within society of that time. By considering such factors in the light of English caricature production, we will outline the exchanges that took place between London and Paris at the turn of the nineteenth century and demonstrate that the two cities' comic print productions were subject to reciprocal influences.

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Cruci erunt eum inter duos latrones

Passion et mort de Louis XVI

Annie Duprat

Cet article se propose de faire un retour sur l'hypothèse des sept morts de Louis XVI formulée par Claude Langlois en 1993. Examinant la polémique menée, par les textes et les images, par les royalistes eux-mêmes, il démontre la force des références anglaises, d'une part, catholiques, d'autre part, dans l'inspiration de leurs auteurs. Le récit dramatisé des faits qui se sont déroulés à Versailles les 5 et 6 octobre 1789 contribue à nourrir l'imaginaire de la violence. Enfin, l'analyse fine de la caricature Grand combat à mort (1792) permet de saisir le rôle du bestiaire dans une caricature politique. De ce livre ressort une nouvelle image de Louis XVI: il est devenu un Christ des temps modernes, souffrant une Passion pour le salut de la France.

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Michael G. Vann

André Joyeux's La Vie large des colonies ['The Colonial Good Life'] is an insider's portrait of the French colonial encounter in Southeast Asia. Published in Paris in 1912 but most likely penned in Saigon, the collection of cartoons explores the racial order of the colony. Although the artist critiques many aspects of the colony and highlights certain gross injustices, such as the coloniser's sexual predation and physical violence, he also articulates many of the bluntly racist French stereotypes of the Vietnamese, Chinese and other Asians in the colony. Joyeux, as an artist and as an art teacher, contributed to the development of cartoon and caricature as a medium in Vietnam, which would eventually be used in the anti-colonial, nationalist and communist movements. La Vie large des colonies is of importance as a primary source in the study of empire.

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Graphic Shorthand

From Caricature to Narratology in Twentieth-Century Bande dessinée and Comics

Harry Morgan

The initial aim of this article is to examine semiotic and narratological aspects of the graphic definition of character and caricature, as found in the image-based storytelling of the twentieth century. Our analysis will focus on North American newspaper strips and comic books - e.g. works by Jack Kirby - and French-language bande dessinée (particularly Alain Saint-Ogan and Jean-Claude Forest). We will see that, as a result of precise technical constraints, such as hand-drawn style [autographie] and swiftness of creation [rapidité d'exécution], caricature comes to play a very specific role in the artistic definition of character.

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Guillaume Lecomte

The comic book series La Vie secrète des jeunes is a sardonic account of French young people’s behaviours witnessed from the voyeuristic viewpoint of its author-illustrator, Riad Sattouf. Despite its caricatural and non-photorealistic visual style, the work conveys a strong sense of authenticity, mixing truth claims borrowed from established non-fiction traditions (journalism, autobiography and documentary). It is also a rare example of a non-fiction comic turned into live action. This article considers the comic and its TV adaptation, and discusses film’s ability to adapt an account of truth rooted in comics ontology. The article first provides a theoretical structure that details the intricacy of repeating the truth from comic to film. Second, it highlights the way in which the comic develops its authenticity by constantly reaffirming Sattouf’s presence and subjectivity. The article aims to show that the adaptation anonymises this viewpoint in order to re-construct the authenticity of its reality.

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Alain Vaillant

During the nineteenth century, not only did the extraordinary development of the printed press transform the cultural environment, but it also brought about major formal changes in literature. This article explores these trasnformations through a focus on the contemporary use of the concept of “modernity.” The word dates back to 1688 at least, but it was mostly employed during the nineteenth century to describe post-revolutionary France and especially to criticize its consumerism and materialistic “bourgeoisie.” Nineteenth-century media culture embodied the triumph of “modernity,” especially in the form of the petite presse (“small press”). Born in a world where censorship still compromised the freedom of speech, the petite presse was an illustrated, satirical, ironical, and wisecracking medium. It aspired to a generalized non-seriousness which would, for a long time, be viewed as the “Parisian spirit.”

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The Crown and the Crowd

Sublimations of Monarchy in Georgian Satirical Prints

David Morgan

This article attempts to account for an apparently wholesale reversal in the visual satirical treatment of the British Crown and its incumbents during the later Georgian and Victorian eras. Using a range of prints from across the Georgian era, some of which have not hitherto been widely published, I argue that the rise of modern parliamentary politics on the one hand, and the threat of war and invasion on the other, created a satirical environment in which the institution of the Crown became effectively sublimated in terms of popular perception; at the same time, the figure of the king himself, his ‘body natural’, became dissociated from the institution that he nominally embodied, such that he could safely be visually lampooned in the manner associated with Gillray and other visual satirists of his generation.

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John Moores

The German journal London und Paris called James Gillray 'the foremost living artist in his genre, not only amongst Englishmen, but amongst all European nations'. Despite the scholarly attention he has attracted, many of Gillray's individual works have yet to receive rigorous analysis. One such neglected print is National Conveniences (1796), assumed to be a crude, straightforward expression of national supremacy. However, a closer reading shows Gillray employing the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau both to undermine notions of English superiority and to assail a particular personal adversary. With this reading in mind, we can reassess references to Rousseau in Gillray's other prints, and propose a new direction from which to approach his greater oeuvre.