Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.

[Footnote 56:  As a power for the encouragement of virtue and the suppression of vice, caricature cannot be too highly estimated, though often abused.  It is doubtful which exercises the greater influence, poem or picture.  In England, perhaps, picture wields the greater power; in France, song.  Yet, “let me write the ballads and you may govern the people,” is an English axiom which was well known before pictures became so plentiful or so popular, or the refined cartoons of Mr. Punch were ever dreamt of.  In Paris, where art-education is highly developed, fugitive designs seems to have, with but few exceptions, descended into vile abuse and indecent metaphor, the wildest invective being exhausted upon trivial matters—­hence the failure.

The art advocates of the Commune, with but few exceptions, seem to have been of the most humble sort, inspired with the melodramatic taste of our Seven Dials or the New Out, venting itself in ill-drawn heroic females, symbols of the Republic, clad in white, wearing either mural crowns or Phrygian caps, and waving red flags.  They are the work of aspiring juvenile artists or uneducated men.  I allude to art favourable to the Commune, and not that coeval with it, or the vast mass of pictorial unpleasantly born of gallic rage during the Franco-Prussian war, including such designs as the horrible allegory of Bayard, “Sedan, 1870,” a large work depicting Napoleon III. drawn in a caleche and four, over legions of his dying soldiers, in the presence of a victorious enemy and the shades of his forefathers’, and the well-known subject, so popular in photography, of “The Pillory,” Napoleon between King William and Bismarck, also set in the midst of a mass of dead and dying humanity.  Paper pillories are always very popular in Paris, and under the Commune the heads of Tropmann and Thiers were exhibited in a wooden vice, inscribed Pantin and Neuilly underneath.  And, again, in another print, entitled “The Infamous,” we have Thiers, Favre, and MacMahon, seen in a heavenly upper storey, fixed to stakes, contemplating a dead mother and her child, slain in their happy home, the wounds very sanguine and visible, the only remaining relict being a child of very tender years in an overturned cradle; beneath is the inscription “Their Works.”  Communal art seems also to have been very severe upon landlords, who are depicted with long faces and threadbare garments, seeking alms in the street, or flying with empty bags and lean stomachs from a very yellow sun, bearing the words “The Commune, 1871.”  Whilst as a contrast, a fat labourer, with a patch on his blouse, luxuriates in the same golden sunshine.  As a sample of the better kind of French art, we give two fac-similes, by Bertal, from The Grelot, a courageous journal started during the Commune; it existed unmolested, and still continues.  We here insert a fac-simile of a sketch called “Paris and his Playthings.”

“What destruction the unhappy, spoiled, and ill-bred child whose name is Paris has done, especially of late!

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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