tu gagnerais davantage aporter de la Viande
(You would earn more by carrying meat)
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The smiling figure of a woman is depicted at the centre of the page. While her body faces forward, her face is turned towards the right of the page. She wears a simple white cap, or bavolet, from which strands of hair escape, and a blue-green dress with a wide collar and white cuffs. Under her dress, which is bunched at the waist, she wears a mid-length red skirt. A strap with hooked ends hangs diagonally over her right shoulder. Two buckets filled with water hang from the hooks. The buckets are kept at a slight distance from her body by a frame that encircles her just above the knee. Her left hand rests lightly on the strap while her right is folded across her body.
- The figure of a water-carrier is based on one in the broadsheet etching by Martel, “Diverses petittes Figure des nouveaux Cris de Paris”, (1710) (illustrated Milliot, 1995, fig. 28). The woman’s “cri” in that version is “Tout rencheri hormis ma marchandise” (‘Everything has increased in price, except for my wares’) – the wares in question being water. The caption could be read as one response to this sales patter.There may also be a link to the image on the facing page, where a barking dog may be expressing displeasure at being brought water instead of meat.
- The figure recalls the traditional representation of the “cris de Paris”, a popular pictorial genre dating back to the Renaissance, representing the Paris street traders hawking their wares. These range from cheap, crude woodcuts mass produced for a popular audience, to lavish and refined suites of engravings destined for the portfolios of wealthy connoisseurs (Milliot, 1995). Several prominent eighteenth-century French artists including Boucher (1703-64) and Bouchardon (1698-1762) engaged with the tradition, as did Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s brother Augustin, and interest in them was also shown by the comte de Caylus, who was known to the Saint-Aubin family. A number of “cris de Paris” type drawings can be found in the “Livre de Caricatures” (e.g. 675.24, 675.123, 675.140). Charles-Germain’s approach to the genre tends towards the lightly comic and the theatrical, as befits the general tone of book.
- This drawing is in Style A, attributed to the principal author of the “Livre de Caricatures”, Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin. Style A displays a childish and naïve aesthetic and sometimes subject matter, and is characterised by crispness of execution, clear outlines and smooth application of colour. It is dominant in the early part of the book, from 675.3 to around 675.160. The opening inscription (675.1a) claims that the book was acquired from booksellers on the Paris quays in 1740 already containing drawings in another hand. The inscription states that ‘my friends put captions [underneath the drawings] and got me to continue this miscellany of follies’ (“mes amis y mirent des légendes et m’engagerent à continuer ce melange de folies”). This may be a tall story, explicable by Charles-Germain’s reluctance to admit authorship of the work. Charles-Germain was a versatile artist, and the possibility that he was responsible for the entire process in these initial drawings cannot be ruled out. In the drawings in the book not in Style A, Charles-Germain first made graphite sketches in much the same way. However it is possible that in the sections of the book dominated by Style A, Charles-Germain confined himself to working up existing graphite drawings, as well as adding details and also, with his friends’ assistance as he describes, the captions.
Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)
187 x 132
tu gagnerais davantage aporter de la Viande
Inscribed, probably by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu, below image, in ink.
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink. Partially overwritten with the first inscription.
Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
You would earn more by carrying meat
- Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises. 675.1-389
- Waddesdon (National Trust)
- Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957
- Robert Massin; Les cris de la ville: Commerces ambulants et petits métiers de la rue; Paris; Éditions Gallimard; 1985
- Vincent Milliot, Le travail sans le geste. Les représentations iconographiques des petits métiers parisiens (XVI-XVIIIe s.), Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, xli, January 1994, 5-28
- Vincent Milliot; Les Cris de Paris: les représentations des petits métiers parisiens (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles); Paris; Publications de la Sorbonne; 1995