Sweet Dreams, Lafayette!

I recently purchased this original lithograph by Daumier:  I fell in love with it when I saw it in an exhibit at the Met.  I am not a big fan of Daumier, but this one, I had to have.  I spotted it on ebay, and got it at a pretty good price.

The elderly Marquis, the one who helped George Washington during the Revolutionary War, is no longer a trim, young, liberal aristocrat.  Time has moved on, and we are in the regime of Louis Phillipe d’Orleans, the July Monarchy, initiated in 1830.  But it’s 1832, and the apparently liberal king has turned out to be a grossly corrupt and undemocratic blowhard.  Lafayette had supported him at the start as the best hope for France – he’s shown embracing the king in a print on the wall – but he came to regret his actions.

Right off the bat, we have multiple levels of representation:

  • In the print, we see the Marquis asleep
  • We also see a print on the wall showing the Marquis in earlier days
  • We see, as if physically present (?) the nightmare of the Marquis – he is oppressed by a giant pear
  • We see Louis Phillipe, crushing the chest of the Marquis, like a succubus.

Anyone would have known the pear was the king, because Daumier became famous, and was thrown in jail, for showing him as one

. 538px-caricature_charles_philipon_pear

And succubi, besides being part of folklore, were represented by the very popular Fuseli around the turn of the 19th century.  Yep, the tradition lives on, too!

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_NightmareOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2 Responses to Sweet Dreams, Lafayette!

  1. bgstudio says:

    An absolutely brilliant satirical illustration, and a fascinating history of the characters involved. You were fortunate to have obtained a print. I love the works of the eighteenth and nineteenth century artists/caricaturists. Years ago, I got a bargain on a purchase of an original engraving designed by William Hogarth. One of my prized artworks.

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