So you want to meddle with the press!


Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Ah! tu veux te frotter à la presse!! (Ah! So you want to meddle with the press!), 3 octobre 1833. Lithograph. Published in La Caricature, no. 152. GC003 Honoré Daumier Collection

Daumier’s caricature of Louis-Philippe I (1773-1850) is signed lower left “ Becquet,rue Furstemberg N°6” (the lithographer) and lower right “chez Aubert, galerie véro dodat.” This is Charles Philipon’s brother-in-law Gabriel Aubert, who was responsible for the distribution and sale of the print. Individuals who could not afford either the print or a magazine subscription, would gather in front of Galerie Véro-Dodat where Daumier’s prints were hung in the window as soon as they were dry.

The Daumier Register,, describes the scene as a caricature of King Louis-Philippe, “being pressurized even by the conservative journalists. It seems that also the right-wing paper Le National had to fear intensified censorship. The risk of a similarly vehement reaction like under Charles X in 1830, which was leading towards revolution, increased constantly. He lost his citizen’s umbrella in the process. The entire print is an allusion to the power of the press.”

“The man handling the press is not necessarily a printer, but most likely one of the ‘news-boys’ who were the real masters of the street at this time. They yelled out the titles of their papers, which were usually appeals of revolt. The police arrested them, but while loudly protesting against the oppression of which they were a victim, these ‘heralds of upheaval’ allowed themselves to be taken without any resistance, knowing quite well that the courts would acquit them. The continuing campaign of abuse against the King, the scarcely veiled incitements to murder, the poverty of a large proportion of the people and the hard apprenticeship of democracy created a strange volatile state of mind.”