© Photo National Library of France

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

While the people of Paris waited for the days of July 1830 for the reestablishment of the Republic, the deputies and constitutional journalists, that is to say liberals, who called for an insurrection against Charles X, made him accept as king Duke Philippe d'Orléans, son of the regicide Philippe-Egalité. Responsible for restoring order, he obviously encountered hostility from the Republican press, including Charles Philipon, founder of The caricature, a newspaper in which Daumier contributed from 1830, is one of the most vehement figures. The "war of Philipon against Philippe" will also earn the journalist trial and imprisonment.

Image Analysis

Gargantua is one of Daumier's very first major political lithographs. We see King Louis-Philippe seated on his throne and who welcomes in his immense mouth a long ladder descending to the ground. Servants climb up this ladder, pouring hoods of ecus into the king's mouth. Below right, a basket is being filled with the money brought in by a multitude in which we must recognize artisans and merchants. Under the ladder, at the feet of the king, better dressed figures, the privileged, collect the parts that have escaped during transport. Finally, at the bottom left, prominent figures in uniform grab the patents and decorations that fall from the royal throne (in fact a pierced chair) and rush towards the National Assembly.
Delivery to legal deposit on December 15, 1831, Gargantua was exhibited in the window of The caricature, Galerie Véro-Dodat, to attract onlookers, before all copies are seized by justice and the lithographic stone broken. His Rabelaisian and scatological inspiration obviously constituted a serious offense against the person of the king, whose face already took the shape of a pear (according to Philipon's idea, often later taken up by Daumier). It resulted in the cartoonist being sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 500 F "for inciting hatred and contempt for the government". Temporarily released, Daumier was not imprisoned until after the publication, in August 1832, of two other charges against the regime, The Launderers and The Court of King Pétaud.


Gargantua-Louis-Philippe is the State in its fiscal aspect. Through this plate, Daumier, a republican artist, therefore attacks a regime which, in defiance of the democratic aspirations of 1830, mainly benefits the notables, new idlers, here opposed to people who work and produce (note, on the right , as the horizon is clear behind them, above the maritime and industrial landscape, and as it is black above the Palais-Bourbon on the left). The criticism formulated here by Daumier must, however, be interpreted in the light of the political conflicts of the time, for it is clear that, in liberal ideology as much as in republican ideology, the work of "useful people" had an eminently positive value. . It should also be noted that the publication of Gargantua comes at a time when the repression carried out by the “resistance” government against political and social unrest is hardening, in a climate of economic malaise: Republican demonstrations are repressed in the capital (June-October) and, in Lyon, the insurrection of the canute workers, who demanded the fixing of a salary scale, broke out on November 20 and was repressed on December 3. To these various events, Daumier devoted several lithographs.

  • caricature
  • censorship
  • Louis Philippe
  • July Monarchy
  • hurry
  • Revolution of 1830


Daumier, 1808-1879 Daumier, 1808-1879 , catalog of the exhibition at the Grand-Palais (October 5, 1999 - January 3, 2000), Paris, RMN, 1999.Guy ANTONETTI Louis Philippe Paris, Fayard, 1994.Philippe VIGIÉ The July Monarchy Paris, PUF coll. "What do I know? », 1982.

To cite this article

Robert FOHR, "Gargantua"