Caricatures of Violence

Allegorical Women

Nearly half of the women represented in La Caricature are allegorical figures. These women represent concepts and institutions such as the French Republic, the press, the national budget, and rival newspapers. In a book about women in Daumier’s (a close colleague of Philipon and contributor to La Caricature) work, Elizabeth Childs explains that caricaturists often used female figures to represent ideas like liberty or the press because the “audience could not easily confuse them with the real players in world politics, who were primarily men” (127). Women’s exclusion from politics also means that their appearance in political settings amplifies the satirical nature of caricatures. They clearly stand out from crowds of male politicians.

Many of these allegories are identified by signature accessories or by labels on their clothing. Aside from these identifiers, depictions of female allegories vary significantly from caricature to caricature. Artists could modify their appearances to emphasize different character traits in support of their message. Women who represent liberty, the presse, or France exemplify Philipon and his colleagues' vision of a good French woman. On the other hand, rival publications and allegories for the government are represented as women who epitomize low morals or the flaws of the wealthy bourgeoisie.  

Twenty-one out of the 55 images (~38%) that I examined with allegorical women depict them as victims of violence, often at the hands of Louis-Philippe and other male politicians. These shocking images aim to inspire sympathy for these women and anger towards the king. They also constitute a direct attack on the masculinity and honor of Louis-Philippe and his July Monarchy. J.B. Margadant explains in an essay on gender in the July Monarchy that, following a "bougeoise definition of masculinity, to dishonor a male opponent in a gendered setting meant presenting him either as an abuser of women or as too much like them" (1471). Thus, the use of female allegories transforms caricature into a "gendered field of honor" on which Louis-Philippe can be critiqued and discredited (Margadant 1472).
Marianne and La Presse are two allegories who appear frequently in La Caricature. The following pages explore their representation and images of violence against them. 

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