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The Saint-Aubin ‘Livre de caricatures’

drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris

Vol. No.
Vol. No.: 


Volume editor(s)
Volume editor(s): 
Colin Jones, Juliet Carey and Emily Richardson
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
Price Sterling (£): 

About the Book

About the Book: 

Out of public sight for over a hundred years, the Livre de caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises is a remarkable work. This collection of comic and satirical drawings was created by a Parisian luxury embroiderer, Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, at a time of rigid press censorship to entertain a small group of family and friends. For today’s reader the Livre provides not only a series of richly imaginative and varied drawings, but also a fascinating and intriguing commentary on pre-Revolutionary Paris.

In this first comprehensive study of the Livre de caricatures, which includes over 190 illustrations, an international team of scholars investigates the motivations and operations behind the making of the book, and the many facets of Parisian life that it illuminates. Embracing politics and religion, theatre, fashion and connoisseurship, and the court of Versailles and the Parisian streets, the scope of the Livre is immense. The work’s unique quality is evident in its humour – whimsical, fantastical, challengingly allusive, but not without a sharp political edge when targeting clerics, the court and Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour.

Known within the Saint-Aubin family as the Livre de culs, the Livre delights in the transgression of social convention and the keen deflation of vanity and pretence. Contributors explore this irreverent image of eighteenth-century Paris in all its glory. In today’s world, the visual satire of the Livre de Caricatures continues to resonate, instruct and entertain.

Colin Jones and Juliet Carey, Introduction

I. The Livre de caricatures and the Saint-Aubins

Colin Jones and Emily Richardson, 1. Archaeology and materiality

John Rogister, 2. Decoding the Livre de caricatures
Kim de Beaumont, 3. The Saint-Aubins sketching for fun and profit

II. Historical perspectives

John Shovlin, 4. War, diplomacy and faction

Julian Swann, 5. Politics and religion

Valerie Mainz, 6. Gloire, subversively

Humphrey Wine, 7. Madame de Pompadour

III. Sites of culture

Mark Ledbury, 8. Theatrical life

James H. Johnson, 9. Musical culture

Aileen Ribeiro, 10. Fashioning the feminine

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, 11. Costume books and fashion plates

Juliet Carey, 12. The king and his embroiderer

Charlotte Guichard, 13. Connoisseurship: art and antiquities

Perrin Stein, 14. Vases and satire

IV. Contexts

Richard Taws, 15. The precariousness of things

Katie Scott, 16. Saint-Aubin’s jokes and their relation to...

Appendix: form and content analysis

List of illustrations


List of contributors





French Studies

[…] this volume offers a rich analysis of a unique object, sneaking a glimpse into the private life and sense of humour of a family of artists in eighteenth-century Paris, and through them a deeper understanding of the political and cultural happenings that affected the lives of ordinary Parisians.