J. J. Grandville

J. J. Grandville (1803-1847) was one of the most influential caricaturists and illustrators in France in 19th century.

Some quick facts…

Real name: Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard

Date of birth: 13 September

Date of death: 17 March

Married: twice (first wife died after the birth of their third child)

Children: four (all sons, three of them died before they reached the age of five)

Artistic education: by his father

Most influenced by: physiognomy and zoology

Specialty: drawings of anthropomorphic animals

Breakthrough in his career:  The Metamorphoses of the Day (Les Metamorphoses du jour) in 1829


Periodicals he was working for: La Caricature, L’Artiste, La Silhouette, Le Charivari

Major books he illustrated: Beranger’s Songs, Perrault’s Mother Goose, Fontaine’s Fables, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

His most important works: Les Metamorphoses du jour (Metamorphosis of the day), Scenes de la vie privee et publique des animaux (Scenes from the private and public lives of animals), Les Fleurs animees (Personification of flowers), Un Autre monde (The other world)

Some of the illustrators influenced by him: Edward Lear, John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter, Walt Disney

Cultural movements inspired by his work: Surrealism, Dadaism

We can enjoy in all 70 lithographs from ‘The Metamorphoses’ in the next gallery (you can click every caricature to enlarge it):

Word ‘metamorphose’ means transformation, radical change, to become something totally different than before. It suits the situation in France right after the publishing of this book very well. In 1830 Louis Phillipe I became a king, the liberal spirit soon started to vanish and caricaturists portrayed him as a traitor.

Around 1835 caricature was practically banished and J. J. Grandville (by the way, J. J. stands for Jean-Jacques) turned to illustrating books. He produced many great illustrations for children books, including fables by La Fontaine (who also wrote for adults, illustrations of his Tales are available here) but his most important works are the ones made for adults.

Here is a link to free scan of Scenes from the private and public life of animals (in French) and I promise I will add another interesting link or two very soon.