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Tusche, tone and stone: 19th C. news illustration

L'Assiette au Beurre #47: February 26, 1902
A special issue on "La Vision de Hugo: 1802-1902" by Th. A. Steinlen


The Vision of [Victor] Hugo 1802-1902 by Th. A. Steinlen

Often, L'Assiette au Beurre devoted a single issue to a specific topic. In this case, because the whole issue is the work of one artist, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, it might be termed Steinlen's vision of Victor Hugo's view of world events, 1802-1902.

Each page, from front to back cover, leads to the next: the 16 separate pages making up the issue are really one, long, mural-like image. Readers of the original would have seen this as they turned the pages, but what they couldn't have seen was the completed "mural" as a single image. This is shown below in an extremely wide 'thumbnail'. You will need to use the horizontal scroll.

An image map allows for the enlargement of any double page spread, as well as the front and back covers. Select the part of the image you want to enlarge. Use the browser back button to return.
On the cover, sits the dejected figure of Justice, lost in thought. Striving to reach this giant, a multitude begs for Justice to act. Standing in comfort and companionship, oblivious to the suffering at their feet, are the ruling imperial-colonial powers. They bring war and atrocities to Turkey, China, and Africa. We see the French law courts and shuffling crowds; Death lounges beside the guillotine. The Church, like a gigantic spider, reaches out to ensnare the population in its web; monk-like clerics push the people ever inward. On the back page, the crowned heads of Europe, including Belgium, England, Russia and Germany (some with animal heads to suggest alter egos) and a Bishop, protectively surround an altar to a Golden (?) Calf. At their feet, tiny human figures drown in a sea of blood.
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