French journals, personified

Posted on 19th May 2017 by simonbeattie

As I wrote last week, I am currently getting ready for the London International Antiquarian Book Fair at Olympia.  Something else which will be on my stand is this, a large (445 × 537 mm) hand-coloured French lithograph.  I bought it not only because it was attractive but because it pertains to the history of the freedom of the press, a subject which interests me.

The dissolution of the Chambre des députés, the lower chamber of the French Parliament, by Louis XVIII on 24 December 1823—the aim of which was to nip any disaffection with the censorship laws in the bud—was to be followed by elections which swept away the liberals.  The creator of the present lithograph juxtaposes the sobriety of parliament for the almost carnival nature of the press: fifteen characters at the bottom of the print represent, anthropomorphically, various journals current at the time: Le Moniteur universel, Le Drapeau blanc, Journal des théâtres, Journal des débats, etc.

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