Panel Comic Art Section

Holy Images of the People: The Caricatures of Louis Marie Bosredon in 19th
Century Paris
This paper argues that satirical lithographs in 19th century Paris allowed a representation
of the people’s sovereignty to take root in the social and political order.
After the collapse of the July Monarchy in 1848, lithographs begin to irreverently depict
the political realm. Desacralizing monarchic figures was their first purpose. In the early
days of this satirical turn, a socialist worker named Louis Marie Bosredon joined the
revolt. He drew a dozen a caricatures mocking the king. One of them shows Louis
Philippe on his knees. Another monarch appears next to him, probably Ludwig I of
Bavaria. Two insurgents are facing them with a snide look on their faces: a crown is
being trampled on by Marianne wearing a Phrygian bonnet.
In 1848, the French Republic not only gave people the freedom to laugh. It also
consecrated popular sovereignty. Hundreds of drawings and caricatures represented “the
common people” (Le Men, 2004; Kaenel, 2004). Bosredon was one of these caricaturists,
laughing at the king and celebrating the person in the street. The analysis of his
production not so much relies on interpretations than on connecting them to their social
and political context (Geipel, 1972; Szabo and Lent, 1994; Hess and Ashbery, 1970;
Horn, 1998).
How did these drawings become political? How laughing changed what was considered
sacred in the exercise of power? The case of Louis Marie Bosredon allows us to
understand how the critic of the representative government was articulated at the time.
This logic is not only a matter of the past: a parallel will be made with the birth of comic
strips (Varnum and Gibbons, 2002). Fix images have their own temporality and narrative
styles (Baetens and Ribière, 2001). They are a key component of what constitutes a
political event (Barker, 1993).

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