Category Archives: Caricature and satire

This weblog is closing

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Quarter day, or clearing the premisses without consulting your landlord, January 30, 1814. Hand colored etching. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Princeton University Class of 1895. Graphic Arts Collection Rowlandson 1785E vol.7


Just a quick note to everyone who has so kindly followed this blog over the years. I will be leaving Princeton at the end of August and so, this will be the end of the new posts.

Since 2007 over 5,000 items in the graphic arts collection have been described. I’m told the site will remain for research and reference, which is my hope. If you have questions about the collection, you can post them to:

Thanks very much for your interest. Julie

That Little Game

From 1916 to 1927, a daily poker game was played inside the pages of the Pittsburgh Press. Bert Link (1884-1964) drew the popular comic strip, using a single panel each day to move the game forward. lists a few details about Bertin Frederick Link’s real life, including his draft card from WWI and his official death certificate [below].

They don’t mention that Link began drawing an almost miniature strip called Looey the 8th, running the full eight column width of the newspaper. Difficult to read, even in person, this was quickly replaced by his iconic poker table, first called “Penney Ante” and then, “That Little Game.” Link continued to publish drawings after the poker game ended and was celebrated by the Pittsburgh Press for his 40 year career.

Here are a few games with Bob, Eddie, and the other boys.




Le Gueux = The Beggar

Eugène Héros (1860-1925) editor, Le gueux. January 1891-October 1892. Monthly. [Paris, 35, rue d’Hauteville: Gueux, 1891-92]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process



The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired 16 individual fascicles, a complete run, of the short lived satirical monthly Le gueux (The Beggar), edited and printed by the lyricist Eugène Héros. A trained lawyer and member of Le chat noir, Héros later became managing director of the Théâtre du Palais Royal (1907-1910) and manager of La Scala (1914-1918). In between writing popular songs, he published the pamphlet Suppression de l’assistance publique (Paris: P. Andreol, 1890), followed by La partie de baccara: comédie-vaudeville en un acte, the first of many plays.



Each issue of Gueux has a singular color lithograph on its cover designed by H. Gray (Henri Boulanger 1858–1924), Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868–1938), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), Victor Sorel, Lilé, Jasmin, and Tzar. Number 9 has the a center fold by Steinlen, also seen on sheet music, titled Mon petit salé (My salted pork).


Also included in one issue is a subscription card and receipt card designed by H. Gray (Henri Boulanger 1858–1924).


La Flaca, La Madeja Politica, La Carcajada, and El Lio

La Flaca, La Madeja Politica, La Carcajada, El Lio (Barcelona, March 1869 – March 1876). Complete with 256 weekly issues bound in 3 volumes, sophisticated copy. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process


Latin American Studies and the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a scarce complete run of this remarkably well-illustrated satirical weekly, which began life as La Flaca. Each issue is typically comprised of one bifolium with a full-page color lithograph in volume 1 and in volume 2 ans 3, a double-page lithograph. More digital images have been posted at:

Published in Barcelona, the Republican magazine faced intense government censorship and so, frequently changed its name, switching from La Flaca to La Carcajada, then La Madeja, La Madeja Política, and finally El Lio to avoid the censors. Biting criticism of the Spanish government and church was a staple while promoting freedom of the press.

The magazine’s chief illustrator was Tomás Padró y Pedret (1840-1877), who should be listed among the great caricaturist of the period. Born in Barcelona to a family of artists, he studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. It has been noted that another student, Mariano Fortuny, introduced him to the drawings by Paul Gavarni, an obvious influence in his satirical work. it is interesting that many plates use the iconography of drawing or writing or printmaking in their satirical message.

“The title was an ironic allusion to the plight of the Spanish people: the rickety woman with a shield bearing the country’s coat of arms and laurel wreath, accompanied by an equally starving lion on the cover of the magazine was a satire allegory of the woman and the lion fomented by the authorities in the 19th century and supposed to embody the alliance between the monarchy and the people.”

The contents are as follows:
Volume 1: La Flaca, nos. 1-100 (3rd of April 1869-3rd of September 1871). NB: no. 1 not dated.

Volume 2: La Carcajada, nos. 1-37 (17th of January 1872-31st of October 1872); La Flaca, nos. 38-84 (7th of November 1872-4th of October 1873).

Volume 3: La Madeja Politica, nos. 1-14 (1st of November 1873 – 31st of January 1873); El Lio, nos. 1-7 (7th of February 1874-18th of April 1874); La Madeja, nos. 22-50 (2nd of May 1874-19th of December 1874); La Madeja, nos. 1-22 (2nd of January 1875-3rd of March 1876).


Ida Saint-Elme, the Female Casanova

Ida Saint-Elme on the left, Daumier on the right

Ida Saint-Elme (née Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt, 1776-1845), La caricature française. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs [= French Caricature. Journal without subscribers and collaborators] no I-XXV [= all published]. (London: Privately published, 1836). Bound with: Album de la correspondance du prince émigré. Londres, privately published. Imprimerie de Schulze et Cie 1836. Bound with: Portrait d’Alibaud, avec sa défense interrompue par les pairs et des confidences sur sa vie intime, d’une jeune francaise, publié par Mme. Ida St. Elme, 1836. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process


The Dutch writer, explorer, and actress Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt (1778-1845) was also known as Ida Saint-Elme; Elzelina av Aylde Jonghe; and by her pseudonym La Contemporaine. The Getty’s union list of artist names adds: Elzélina van Aylde Jonghe and Elzélina Tolstoy van Aylde-Jonghe.

Her moniker “the Female Casanova” came after she published her eight volume memoir Mémoires d’une contemporaine, 1827-28 [recap 1509.178.7913], which emphasized her romantic adventures. Perhaps to escape this celebrity, she spent the next few years sailing the Nile and exploring Egypt, publishing a six-part travelogue La Contemporaine en Egypt.

Later, while working as a manuscript dealer in London, she also published a satirical magazine modeled after Charles Philipon‘s La caricature, which she called La caricature francaise. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs. This is possibly the earliest satirical magazine written, illustrated, and published by a woman. However she stole many images directly from Philipon’s magazine, such as her copy of Honoré Daumier’s 1833 lithograph “Ah ! Tu veux te frotter à la presse !” from La Caricature.


“One of the most unusual results of the September Laws was the founding in March 1836 of a French caricature journal in exile, La Caricature Françoise. It was published anonymously (by the Bonapartist intriguer Ida Saint-Elme) in London, in order to escape censorship, at an office it dubbed “The Crowned Pear.” This new extremely rare tabloid-sized weekly, which lasted only six months, consisted of four pages of text and included on the title page a woodcut caricature which was often copied from drawing previously published in Philipon’s journals.” –Robert Justin Goldstein, Censorship of Political Caricature in Nineteenth-century France, 1989.

“The magazine contained letters from the king, whether or not forged, which ridiculed him. In April 1841 this led to a legal process against Versfelt, the so-called “Procès des lettres”. But the court could not prove that the published letters were actually falsified and Versfelt was therefore not convicted. But many English prominent people considered her a forger. After this Versfelt left for Belgium, where she would live until her death in 1845. She died on 19 May 1845, blind and penniless, in a hospice in Brussels. She was buried in an anonymous grave.” ~ Enne Koops


The Graphic Arts Collection acquired this collection of 36 caricatures of political and cultural figures including Adolf Hitler, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, and Boris Pasternack.

The following biography is from Granta’s interview with Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973) was a poet, novelist, translator and editor.

He edited one of the main Czech daily newspapers, Lidové noviny [1928-30; AP52 .xL45f] and the main literary paper, Literární noviny [1930-32; *QVA 90-2443]. He was also a talented artist and caricaturist, often illustrating his own work. Hoffmeister set up an anti-fascist magazine, Simplicus, in the 1930s after the German satiric magazine Simplicissimus was banned by the Nazis.

He also wrote the libretto for a children’s opera, Brundibar, with music by the Czech composer Hans Krása in 1938; the opera was performed fifty-five times by children in Terezín concentration camp where Krása was interned. Hoffmeister emigrated to France in 1939, but moved on to Morocco when France fell. There, he was arrested but escaped from an internment camp and arrived in New York via Lisbon and Havana in 1941.

He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and worked for UNESCO. After the Communist coup in February 1948, Hoffmeister was named French ambassador by the new neo-Stalinist regime but was recalled shortly after. He worked then as a lecturer in fine art at the Academy of Applied Arts. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister emigrated to France once again in 1969, but decided to return in 1970. He died three years later in the Orlický mountains, judged by the regime to be a non-person.


“In December 1941, he delivered a lecture entitled “Caricature as a Weapon” at the Workers’ House in New York, and several months later, he launched a “No One Will Win the War for Us” lecture tour across the United States. During this time, Hoffmeister and Pelc participated in several joint exhibitions and created drawings for magazines.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer Public Ledger, 24 Dec 1941: 12




Adolf Hoffmeister, AH34, Visages (Prague: S.V.U. Manes, 1934). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Exércices d’imagination de differens charactéres[sic] …

Joseph François von Götz (baron, 1754-1815), Exercices d’imagination de differens Caractères et Formes humaines, inventés peints et dessinés par Goez (Augsburg: Academie Imperiale d’Empire, ca. 1785). Graphic Arts Collection 2020-in process


Reproduced here are a few of the 100 engraving printed in differing shades of sanguine inks over black by Robert Brichet (French, active 1775–90) after designs by Götz (or by Götz himself). The social satires act as occupational “cries” of Augsburg rather than personal caricatures. This volume merges the French and German series, which appears elsewhere as Die heutige sichtbare Körperwelt oder 100 Charakter Züge. Only a very few copies were printed in colored ink.


Götz is credited with publishing the first graphic novel (Leonardo und Blandine, 1783). [c.f. Cohen-De Ricci, col. 443 («Il y a des exemplaires dont les figures sont tirées en rouge»); Hiler, p. 383; Lipperheide 3522; cf. Colas 1277, although as we all know, statements like that beg to be proven wrong. James Gillray was also publishing sequential image narratives. See:

Political Animals. Note: this post includes offensive racial slurs

Politicians frequently use animals to symbolize their party, currently a donkey for the Democrats and an elephant for Republicans. Beginning in the 1840s, the American Whig party took the raccoon as its symbol, along with its associations with independent frontiersmen and their raccoon-skin caps. Nineteenth-century Democrats used the rooster.

During the presidential election of 1844 between Democrat James K. Polk (1795-1849) and Whig Henry Clay (1777-1852) these two symbols were used effectively in rude and offensive caricatures of the other party. According to the Dictionary of Etymology the abbreviation for raccoon was already in use as a vulgar reference to African Americans, giving added weight to the ridicule loaded into anti-Whig texts and images.

“The now-insulting U.S. meaning “black person” was in use by 1837, said to be from barracoon (by 1837), from Portuguese barraca “slave depot, pen or rough enclosure for black slaves in transit in West Africa, Brazil, Cuba.” If so, no doubt this was boosted by the enormously popular blackface minstrel act Zip Coon (George Washington Dixon) which debuted in New York City in 1834. But it is perhaps older (one of the lead characters in the 1767 colonial comic opera “The Disappointment” is a black man named Raccoon).”–


One of the chief issues in the 1844 election was slavery and the annexation of the Republic of Texas. This can be seen in the use of the raccoon caricatures in the anti-Whig newspaper The Ohio Coon Catcher, published by the Democrats in the pro-Whig state of Ohio. There were several other similar newspapers on either side.


The Graphic Arts Collection has an incomplete run of The Ohio Coon Catcher, which was published between August and November 1844, during the first American election held in November. A complete digital run has been posted by the Ohio Memory project The paper was the project of Samuel Medary (1801-1864) the editor and publisher of the Ohio Statesman, as well as head of the Ohio delegation to the democratic National Convention. In both text and image, it promoted Polk’s candidacy with news items, political opinion, testimonials of reformed Whigs, poems, and cartoons.



In the national popular vote, Polk beat Clay by fewer than 40,000 votes, a margin of 1.4%.

See also: W. Miles, The people’s voice: An annotated bibliography of American presidential campaign newspapers, 1828-1984. Westport, CT: Greenwood press, 1987.


Anaïs Nin and Surrealist Films

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) is famous for her diaries but she also wrote a book of surrealist prose poetry titled The House of Incest that was first self-published in Paris under Siana Editions (her name spelled backwards) and in New York with two second editions under her Gemor Press (limited edition shown above). An early inspiration for this book was the 1928 German film Alraune or the 1930 adaptation by Richard Oswald.



One year after her first edition appeared, her lover Henry Miller wrote his own interpretation of The House of Incest, titled Scenario, self-published under the Obelisk Press imprint in July 1937 in an edition of 200 copies with a frontispiece illustration by Abraham Rattner (an American artist living in Paris).

“I hate Scenario,” wrote Nin, “and I never had the courage to tell Henry. It is the worst and basest product of our association and collaboration. In his hands all my material was changed, the very texture of House of Incest was changed. He wrote Scenario but the ideas were mine, all of them. He only added Henry-like touches; doves coming out of asses, skeletons, noise, and things I don’t like, loud and filmlike, the opposite of House of Incest. He concretized it, it smells of L’Age d’or, Dali paintings, it is absolutely lacking in originality. A monstrous deformed bastard child born of our two styles and a caricature of mine. And worst of all, to me (and I never forgot the day I received it in New York), it revealed how Henry had not penetrated the meaning of House of Incest, could not.”–Nearer the Moon (1996), p. 107.


All of Nin’s projects were funded by her husband Hugh Parker Guiler (pen name Ian Hugo, 1898-1985). A banker by trade, Guiler also studied engraving with Stanley William Hayter and printed the images for many of his wife’s books, later branching out into experimental filmmaking. Bells of Atlantis (1952) featured Nin reading from House of Incest, with a soundtrack of electronic music by their friends Louis and Bebe Barron.

Ian Hugo, Bells of Atlantis (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1952). “Evokes the atmosphere of another life, time and another world which the author identifies with Atlantis. The accompanying images of this “cinematic poem” suggest the mythical drowned kingdom and the aqueous beauty of the lost continent.” Based in part on Anais Nin’s The House of Incest. Director, Ian Hugo, assisted by Len Lye; narrator, Anais Nin; music, Louis and Bebe Barron.

A costume party the following year, “Come as your madness,” inspired Kenneth Anger’s film The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, in which Nin appeared as Astarte, the goddess of fertility.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977), The House of Incest (Paris: Siana éditions, 1936). “The first edition consist of two hundred forty nine copies, printed on excelsior cartridge paper, signed by the author, and numbered 1 to 249: printed in 1936.” Special Collections, Sylvia Beach Collection, 3875.4.347

Henry Miller (1891-1980), Scenario: (a film with sound); with a frontispiece by Abraham Rattner (Paris: Obelisk Press, 1937). “This the original edition, published in 1937, is limited to two hundred copies assigned by the author and numbered 1 to 200.” “This scenario is directly inspired by a phantasy called “The House of incest,” written by Anaïs Nin”–3rd prelim. leaf.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977), House of Incest (New York: Gemor Press, 1947). Limited to 50 copies. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler

Please join us for the latest in our series of live webinars highlighting Special Collections at Princeton University Library. This month focuses on speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of Octavia E. Butler.

January 2020 brought the release of the much anticipated Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrator John Jennings, the follow-up to the no.1 New York Times bestseller Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by the same award-winning team. Butler’s groundbreaking dystopian novel offers a searing vision of America’s future. Set in the year 2024, Parable presents a country marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. Residents shelter indoors, warned against venturing outside into a world eerily similar to our contemporary COVID-19 existence.

Adapting Parable and Kindred to a graphic novel format is an astounding achievement and we are fortunate to have both Damian Duffy and John Jennings with us to discuss how they accomplished it. Their adaptations capture the energy and raw emotion of Butler’s prose with visual acrobatics and succinct verbal interchanges. Join this lively discussion with Graphic Arts Curator Julie Mellby, focusing on their graphic adaptations of classic literature, along with a look at their future projects.


Date: Friday, July 31, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Virtual


Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a renowned African-American author who was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work.

Damian Duffy is a cartoonist, scholar, writer, and teacher. He holds a MS and PhD in library and information sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is on faculty.

John Jennings is the newly appointed director of Megascope, Abrams ComicArt’s graphic imprint as well as a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside.