Philipon Charles

Paris, France

19.04.1800 - 25.01.1861

Lithographer, cartoonist, journalist.

Charles Philipon came from a small, middle-class Lyon family. His father, Etienne Philipon, was a hatter and wallpaper manufacturer. He enthusiastically welcomed the revolution of 1789.

After attending school in Lyon and Villefranche-sur-Saone, Charles Philipon studied drawing at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. He left his hometown in 1819 to work for the painter Antoine Gros in Paris, but returned at his father’s behest in 1821 to join the family business, designing fabric for three years. Although this activity did not suit him, it left its mark on his subsequent work. In difficult economic and social times in 1824, he took part in the Lyon carnival procession, which was considered rebellious; he was arrested, but the charges were eventually dropped.

Charles Philipon finally left Lyon for Paris, where he reunited with old friends from the workshop of Antoine Gros. One of them, Charlet, a famous artist, took him under his patronage and introduced him to lithography, a technique that became widespread in France in the 1820s. Philipon got a job as a lithographer and artist, drawing for picture books and fashion magazines. He showed ingenuity. He became close to liberals and satirists of that time, visited Granville’s workshop (1827), and two years later joined forces with the creators of the newspaper “La Silhouette” on which he worked as an editor and designer.

Although Philipon’s financial contribution to the company was small, his editorial contribution seems to have focused on the organization of the lithography department, which gave the newspaper its originality, since illustrations were given the same importance as the text. If earlier La Silhouette did not have a definite political line, by July 1830 it had developed a more aggressive approach. It was in this magazine that on April 1, 1830, Philipon published the first political cartoon “Charles X the Jesuit”.

On December 15, 1829, Philipon sent his son and business partner Gabriel Aubert to found the Aubert publishing house, competing with other printing houses in Paris. The Veronik Dodat Pass, where the publishing house was located, was to become in the following years “a place of breathtaking [commercial] war.”

«La Silhouette»

In October 1829 , Philipon began a career in journalism as a co – founder of La Silhouette . He made minor financial investments and became a co-author without final editorial control. La Silhouette was the first French newspaper to regularly publish prints and illustrations, giving them equal or even greater importance than the written text. Each issue ridiculed the political and literary events of the day and included lithographs of the most famous Parisian graphic artists.

“La Silhouette” was published from December 24, 1829 to January 2, 1831. It became the prototype of similar publications published in France during the 19th century. La Silhouette was originally known as a moderate magazine during times of intense political debate. Some of the employees were jailed for publishing articles critical of the government, while others held more conservative views. Over time, the sympathies of the editorial staff of the publication became more and more radical.

Strict state censorship did not allow La Silhouette to publish cartoons aimed directly at politicians, with the exception of a small woodcut of King (Charles X of France) Philippon, which was secretly inserted into the text of the issue dated April 1, 1830. The newspaper never included prints, so the censors, who focused on the lithographs of the issues, did not notice it. The publication caused a scandal — with an intensity that reflected the rarity of political caricature before the revolution — and the editor was eventually sentenced to six months in prison and fined 1,000 francs. Philipon, who carefully left the caricature unsigned, avoided the consequences of the scandal.

In later issues, censorship was circumvented when editors wrote sharply critical biased comments and attached them to seemingly innocuous images. In the May and June issues of 1830, this tactic was used to address various political topics with a series of scenes with animals by J. J. Granville (Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard). In the issue immediately preceding the July Revolution, Honore Daumier published a vague image of the battlefield, to which the editor gave an explicit political message.

He was the director of the satirical political newspapers La Caricature and Le Charivari , which included lithographs of some of France’s leading cartoonists, such as J. J. Granville (Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard), Honoré Daumier, Paul Gavarny, Charles-Joseph Travies, Benjamin Roubaud and others. Artists often illustrated Philipon’s themes to create some of France’s earliest political cartoons.

He died in Paris at the age of 61.


Philipon inspired many other cartoonists, such as Honore Daumier, Charles-Joseph Travies de Villers, Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard Granville, Paul Gavarny and Henri Monier. Daumier spoke about Philippon’s influence on him, saying, “If Philippon hadn’t been behind me to constantly push me like a bull is pushed with a plow, I would never have done anything.” The playwright Honore de Balzac called Philippon “the duke of lithography, the marquis of drawing, the count of woodcut, the baron of Burlesque, Sir caricature.”

The meaning of cartoons:

Historian Paul Thurot-Dangin said about the destructive influence of Philippon on the power of the king:

He was able to group, launch and inspire artists with them, instill in them his acrimony and his audacity, supply them with ideas and legends, bold persecutions and condemnations, and thus this unknown man became one of the most dangerous opponents of the new crown, not allowing the monarch to acquire the prestige that is necessary for the true assertion of himself.

In 1835, after the assassination attempt on Louis Philippe, an official declared that “there is no more direct provocation to crimes” than a caricature. After the assassination attempt, a new censorship law was adopted, aimed at suppressing the further appearance of political art.


The birth of business:

After the revolution of July 1830, Philipon published on November 4 of the same year an illustrated weekly called “La Caricature”. It was sold only by subscription, it had four pages of text and two lithographs of a larger format than “La Silhouette”. The magazine was primarily conceived as an elegant illustrated magazine with drawings printed on parchment paper. The lithographs were printed on separate text and tear-off sheets. At first, La Caricature took a non-political position, before in the spring of 1832 it opposed the July monarchy.

On December 1, 1832, while in prison, Philipon published Le Charivari, an illustrated daily newspaper with four pages of a smaller format than La Caricature. More diverse and more “popular” than his predecessor, he was not limited to political caricature. “Le Charivari”, was the only daily cartoon magazine of France of the nineteenth century.  The lithographs are of lower quality than in “La Caricature”, but are better integrated into the text. After that, Charivari’s presentation changed significantly.

As the owner of these two newspapers, Philipon retained full control over all aspects of the written and lithographic content of the newspapers.

He chooses his employees, dealing with suppliers in the market, as well as financial management. In an obituary published in 1862, Nadar notes “extraordinary clarity in business” combined with “an inexhaustible abundance of inventions and means.” Hires his artist friends, defines tasks with them, suggests topics, coordinates text and lithography. He doesn’t hesitate to ask for changes to avoid censorship. To ensure editorial consistency, the writing is reduced to a small group of dedicated journalists.

The testimonies of his contemporaries emphasize the charisma of Filippon, who inspired writers and cartoonists working for him.  Focusing on lithographs himself, his publishing house had an almost complete monopoly on this type of publication since 1831, with a third of all lithographs published in Paris coming from him.

1830 – 1835

Campaign against Louis Philippe 1830-1832:

In the autumn of 1830, Filippon, as a supporter of the July Revolution, expected a lot from the new regime. The first issues of “Caricature” did not contain political accusations. Philipon’s editor-in-chief and friend Balzac made a great contribution during this period, signing his articles under various pseudonyms. The anticlericalism already present in La Silhouette was persistently manifested both in the texts and in the illustrations. The memory of Napoleon is still alive.

However, the tone changed in late December 1830 – early 1831, when the magazine criticized the law of December 4, 1830, which restored stamp duty and censorship of newspapers. Then the cartoons retained their political and satirical character, as the new regime became increasingly authoritarian, overturning the “era of consensus”. According to Philipon, the cartoons increased the important influence of artists, as it has been in England for a long time, exposing “the enemies of our freedoms.”

Philipon expressed his dissatisfaction with the regime in the cartoon “July Foam” published by Maison Aubert (February 26, 1831). Better known as “Soap Bubbles”, he shows Louis-Philippe casually blowing bubbles that show unfulfilled promises of press freedom, popular elections, mayors elected by the people, etc.. Prosecution for insulting the king, Philippon is eventually acquitted. A few months later, he was offended again by another lithograph, known as “Cosmetic Repairs”, in which the king is depicted as a bricklayer symbolically erasing the traces of the July Revolution.  He was brought before a jury again.

The trial in November 1831:

“The first fruit of France.” At the trial on November 14, 1831, Philipon, who would certainly be convicted, defended himself, arguing that everything could be made to resemble the king, and that he and other cartoonists could not be held responsible for this similarity. He illustrated his defense with a metamorphosis, drawing in four stages the king’s face turning into a pear. This image has become a widely used reference and symbol of the revolution even outside Paris.

The widespread distribution of pears is well documented by a huge number of people of that time, including William Makepeace Thackeray , Heinrich Heine, Charles Baudelaire, Stendhal and Sebastian Pate , who wrote a book called “The Physiology of Pears”. -lack of images. Victor Hugo in Les Miserables pays homage to the images when a boy draws an image of a pear on the wall, when the king helped him finish it and handed him a Louis gold coin, saying: “The pear is also on it.”

Pears began to represent the regime and its accomplices and began to appear more often both in “La Caricature” and in “Le Charivari”, and in other publications.

Later, Philipon published an image of a giant pear statue being erected on the Place de la Concorde, with the title “Expiapoire monument erected on the site of the Revolution, exactly where Louis XVI was guillotined.” Expiapoire is a combination of the words expiatoire meaning “redemptive” and poire meaning “pear”. He was tried for this work, and the prosecution called this work “incitement to murder.” Philipon replied: “Making marmalade would be the best incitement to murder.”

Doomed to closure in August after the adoption of the censorship law in 1835, La Caricature published the corresponding part of the text of the law in the form of a pear with the inscription “Other fruits of the July Revolution”.


At the end of the trial by jury, Philippon was found guilty of “disrespect for the person of the king.” Arrested on January 12, 1832, he had to serve six months in prison and pay a fine of 2,000 francs, to which were added seven months related to other censorship cases. He was transferred to Saint-Pelagie prison and Dr. Pinel’s orphanage, where the regime is more favorable.

The final break with the July monarchy occurred on June 5 and 6, 1832, at the funeral of General Lamarck, which resulted in a severely suppressed uprising. Filippon has just published and signed the “Redemptive Pear Monument Project”. Fearing for his life, he hid in Paris until the end of the siege. He returned to Saint-Pelagie on September 5, 1832 and was finally released from prison on February 5, 1833.

As a result of the brutality of the regime that “persecuted” him, as well as the influence of contacts he met in prison, his position strengthened. After he hoped for “liberalism compatible with the monarchy,” his position itself became Republican.

Republican Commitment 1833-1835

By the time of his first political cartoons, Philipon had already established contacts with Republican circles. A number of artists who gravitated towards him were of Republican beliefs, or at least sympathetic. From November 1831 to March 1832, a list of subscriptions from “La Caricature” is allowed, and the second call is made a year later in “Le Charivari” without much success. In “La Caricature” of April 11 of the same year, Philipon publishes a frankly militant lithograph “Bluebeard, White and Red” by Granville and Desperet.

In 1834, these ties were strengthened. “Le Charivari” held a fundraiser for several republican associations. In the same year, Philipon was among the founders of the Republican Magazine (February 1834), whose shares he owns. The Colbert Hotel, where Charivari’s offices are located, will also be adjacent to two Republican newspapers, The National and The Common sense. It was here that Gregory, the most famous Republican printer in Paris, stood, whom Aubert and Philipon tied up as shareholders.

These expressions of solidarity are reflected in the lithographs, in which the figure of the proletariat is at the center of several cartoons.In this lithograph, which Philipon considers “one of the best political sketches made in France,” the typographer fully challenges the fragile figures of Louis Philippe and Charles X. However, Filippon remains a Republican “patriot”.

It is impossible to deny involvement in the brutally suppressed uprisings in Lyon (April 9) and Paris (April 13). Several lithographs appear, including the winner of Hercules Travi (“Caricature”, May 1, 1834) and especially Rue Transnonain Daumier (“Monthly Association”, September 24, 1834), which speak of the murder of the inhabitants of this street by troops on April 15, 1834. “This is not a caricature,” says Philipon, — this is not a burden, it is a bloody page of our modern history, a page drawn by a strong hand and dictated by old indignation” ( “Caricature”, October 2, 1834).

On July 28, 1835, the bombing of Fieschi has immediate consequences: the arrest of Armand Carrel at the Colbert Hotel, a search of the offices of Le Charivari, a warrant for the arrest of Philipon is issued. The day before the attack, Philipon published a red issue of “Le Charivari”, a real thug with a list of men, women and children killed by troops and the National Guard since 1830. It was accompanied by a lithograph with the ironic title “Personalization is the sweetest and most humane system” (“Le Charivari”, July 27, 1835). Philipon was accused of “moral complicity” in the attack.

On August 5, 1835, new press laws were introduced in the House of Representatives. At a meeting on August 29, Thiers said: “There is nothing more dangerous than vile cartoons, seditious designs, there is no more direct provocation to attack” (Universal Monitor, August 30, 1835). The cartoon ceased publication. In November 1835, “Le Sharivari” is sold for a song, but Philipon dismisses the officer until 1838. Summing up the results of five years, he writes: “I started on November 4, 1830, the country of liberal illusions and arrived in September 1835 in the kingdom of the saddest realities.”


Reference: Wikipedia, 2014


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