The Public Got Justice!

François le Villain (active 1819-1822), Le public a obtenu justice! Les scélérats n’en feront plus … … des albums! (The public got justice! The villains will do more … … albums!), [1828]. Lithograph. Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845) and Hippolyte Bellange (1800-1866) on a pyre of lithographic albums. Graphic Arts French Prints GC077

François Le Villain is commenting on the trouble caused by the images in the portfolios of lithographs that printsellers were turning out in huge numbers during the early nineteenth century. He points to Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845) and Hippolyte Bellangé (1800-1866) in particular, who were among the most prolific of the illustrators. Both used subject matter of military exploits under the First Empire, which made their work popular with the opposition under the Restoration and influential in the propagation of a mythic view of the Napoleonic era. The two are shown being burned at the stake by a fire of their own work.

Charlet and Bellangé both studied in the studio of Antoine-Jean Gros. They each went on to have careers as commercial illustrators, using the popular new process of lithography for their plates. Between 1823 and 1835, Bellangé alone published fifteen albums of lithographs devoted to the patriotic military subjects. During the same period, Charlet published a number of albums with the firm of Gihaut, who also published this print.