J.J. Grandville

The slideshow image for J.J. Grandville is an illustration titled "The Fools Invent Fashions, and the Sages Follow" published in 1845. PD source: Wikimedia Commons. 

Famille de Scarabées (Family of Beetles) by J.J. Grandville from  Le Metamorphoses du Jour.  PD source:  Wikimedia Commons

Famille de Scarabées (Family of Beetles) by J.J. Grandville from Le Metamorphoses du Jour. PD source: Wikimedia Commons

J. J. Grandville is a pseudonym used by 19th Century French caricature artist and lithographer, Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard. Grandville was born in 1803 in Nancy, France. The artist chose the name Grandville following his father's lead, who had also adopted the Grandville surname his comedian grandparent's used as a stage name. Grandville's father, a painter of miniatures, taught Jean how to draw and paint. The young artist was more adept at drawing than painting and demonstrated an early talent for creating caricatures in pencil. He became compulsive in his drawing habits and covered the walls of his room with his work. Grandville attended school and then did some work designing costumes for a theater troupe. As the caricaturist's skills were maturing, lithography came into widespread use for producing prints for sale for a variety of purposes. Lithography suited Grandville's temperament and abilities. He developed a style that employed more precise lines and cross hatching. The caricaturist appreciated the immediacy of the process and the fact that work involved “drawing” on the stone. The public was eager for depictions of contemporary events and personalities offered by this new form of mass media. His caricatures and other illustrations were very popular and became more and more fantastical over time.

Le Metamorphoses du Jour

An  announcement from an 1829 event  inviting the public to view the prints from Grandville's The Metamorphosis of the Day.

An announcement from an 1829 event inviting the public to view the prints from Grandville's The Metamorphosis of the Day.

Grandville came to fame with success of an early work, Le Metamorphoses du Jour (The Metamorphosis of the Day). published in 1828. The volume contains 70 illustrations that were originally published as a folio of hand colored lithographs. The topics satirized the bourgeois middle class of Paris as comic combinations of animals and humans in the clothing and settings of the time. The anthropomorphic images were wildly successful and widely mimicked. Owners of the works would share them with visitors and pass them around as a form of entertainment. These first editions are almost impossible to find and are subjects of forgery.


A Seattle PI Book Patrol blog post from 2010 contains this reprinted listing:

GRANDVILLE, J.J. Les Metamorphoses du jour. Paris: Chez Bulla, 1829.
Oblong folio. One leaf of letterpress with the Preface by Achille Comte, and seventy-three hand-colored lithographed plates. Lithographed pink wrappers.
Vicaire V, 775-780. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Books, 132. Backer 762.


Later editions of Le Metamorphoses du Jour employed engraved versions of the original lithographs that were less brilliant in color and affect. These books included biographical information about Grandville, text accompanying the illustrations and various additional black and white illustrations.

An expanded edition was published in 1854 with biographical text by Charles Blanc. A second edition was published in 1869. Both versions are viewable on Google books. Another version is available online from the Internet Archive. This has the advantage that you can view the full text version and if your browser supports translation, as Google Chrome does, you can read the volume in your preferred language.

An extensive list of Grandville's works is maintained on the French version of Wikipedia.

Before Les Metamorphoses Du Jour

Most biographical information about Grandville mentions three specific works of particular merit produced before the publication of Les Metamorphoses Du Jour. These include: 

Les Tribulations De La Petite Propriété (Tribulations of Small Property), 12 lithographs published in Paris. These dates and publishers are listed in different sources: 1826 by Langlumé and 1828 by Gihaut Frères.

Les Plaisirs de tout âge (The Pleasures of All Ages) aka Chaque âge a ses plaisirs (Every age has its pleasures), 10 lithographs, Published in 1827 by Gihaut Frères of Paris.

La Sibylle des salons (The Sibyl Lounges ), 53 lithographs. An illustrated deck of cards for a game published in 1827. Here are three sources of this image: La Sibylle des Salons on YouTubeLe Palais du Tarot and Boutique Artisa-Aide.

La Caricatur

Masthead for La Caricature, Number 1:
November 4, 1830 Premiere Issue

Masthead for La Caricature, Number 1: November 4, 1830 Premiere Issue

Grandville began drawing caricatures for La Caricature in the second issue and went on to produce 120 caricatures for the publication. La Caricature was an illustrated weekly newspaper founded on November 4, 1830 by Charles Philipon. The tagline on the masthead promises coverage of events and ideas related to the “moral, religious, literary and stage”. The magazine was published from 1830 through 1835. Some other notable artists featured in the publication include: Honoré Daumier, Traviès, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps and Philippe-Auguste Jeanron.

Archive.org has a copy of bound issues of La Caricature from November 4, 1830 through April 28, 1831. Viewing the PDF version is very satisfying.

Artists represented in the volumes of La Caricature available from Archive.org are: Grandville, Henry Monnier, Hippolyte Bellangé, Victor Adam, Achille Devéria, Edme-Jean Pigal, Eugène Lami, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Auguste Raffet, Traviès, Eugène Forest, Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet, A Menut, Paul Gavarni and Vattier.

The caricatures created by Grandville in these volumes are:

  • Volume 2: Les ombres portées (1)
  • Volume 3: Les ombres portées (2)
  • Volume 10: On annonce M. Mahieux
  • Volume 16: Le carnaval politique (1)
  • Volume 19: Le carnaval politique (2)
  • Volume 23: M. Mahieux eu bergère
  • Volume 24: Une couleur nouvelle? Dame!... Flamme de Praga? Sang polonais?
  • Volume 25: L'enterrement de la liberté

Here are the volume numbers and dates for the La Caricature issues in the Archive.org volume:

  • Number 15, February 10, 1831
  • Number 16, February 17, 1831
  • Number 17: February 24, 1831
  • Number 18: March 5, 1851
  • Number 19: March 10, 1831
  • Number 20: March 17 1831
  • Number 21: March 24, 1831
  • Number 22: March 31, 1831
  • Number 25: April 7, 1831
  • Number 24: April 14, 1831
  • Number 25: April 21, 1831
  • Number 26: April 28, 1831
  • Number 26: April 28, 1831


  • Number 1: November 4, 1830 Premiere Issue
  • Number 2: November 11, 1830
  • Number 3: November 18, 1830
  • Number 4: November 25, 1830
  • Number 5: December 2, 1830
  • Number 6: December 9, 1830
  • Number 7: December 16, 1830
  • Number 8: December 23, 1830
  • Number 9: December 30, 1830
  • Number 10: January 6, 1831
  • Number 11: January 15, 1831
  • Number 12: January 20, 1831
  • Number 13, January 27, 1831
  • Number 14, February 5, 1831

The History of Nineteenth Century in Caricature by Arthur Bartlett Maurice and Frederic Taber Cooper has a chapter on French caricature titled, “The Baiting of Louis Philippe”. The authors single out the following cartoons by Grandville for special recognition:

"The Pit of Taxation" (La fosse de la fiscalité)

"The Resuscitation" (La Réanimation)

"Louis Philippe as Bluebeard"

These cartoons are mentioned in the book but no illustrations are provided.

"This is not a Chamber, it is a Kennel"

"Infernal laboratory for extracting the quintessence of politics"

"Analysis of Human Thought"

"The Public Thrown to the Imposts in the Great Pit of the Budget"

"L'Ordre regne a Varsovie"

"M. Gros, gras et bete" ??

Alexandre Dumas introduces the chapter of his memoir dedicated to his friend Grandville with these words:

“A delicate and sarcastic smile, eyes sparkling with intelligence, a satirical mouth, short figure and large heart and a delightful tincture of melancholy perceptible everywhere - that is your portrait, dear Grandville!”


Dumas describes celebrities of the day coming to Grandville's art studio. They sat for caricatures and conversations in his garret among the drawings on all surfaces and the eclectic collection of objects and creatures that inspired him.

Of Grandville, Dumas also wrote,

“Others find fault with the world as good God has made it, but, powerless to refashion it, they rest satisfied with railing at it; Grandville not only did not scoff at it, but even re-created one of his own.”

Some of the visitors to Grandville's garret included: Paul Delaroche, Jacques Guiaud, Paul Huet, Charles Philippon, Eugène Forest, Edouard Charton and Alexandre Dumas.

Louis Philippe went back on promises to support a free press. The caricatures making fun of the hypocrisy and corruption of the government were too powerful to ignore. There were many battles and occasional arrests over the cartoons. Eventually the government wanted to shut down La Caricature. Philippon published a series of lithographs as a fundraiser for La Caricature. This 24 print series was called Monthly Association. Two of Grandville's seventeen cartoons in the series are viewable in the post about French caricature at the Melton Prior Institute website by Alexander Roob, “Against Daumier. A Revision of Early French Caricature and Social Graphics”.

Look for the following images:

J.J. Grandville: "Etrennes au pouvoir". La Caricature 1833

J.J. Grandville / Forest: "Je séparerai l'ivraie du bon grain...", La Caricature, 1831

The Illustrator of Books


Government instituted censorship caused La Caricature to cease publication in 1835. This is said to have been a relief to Grandville who was not relishing the continual conflict. He now focused his energy creating illustrations for book including: Oeuvres complètes de Béranger, Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote, Gulliver's Travels, Fables by G. Moir Bussey, Fables of La Fontaine, La Vie privée et publique des animaux, Les Cent Proverbes, Un Autre Monde and Les Fleurs animées.

A Tragic End


In the last tens years of Grandville's life he suffered tremendous losses. He married Marguerite-Henriette Fischer in 1833. Their first son, Ferdinand, died at age four. Their second son, Henry, choked to death on an piece of bread at age three. This was witnessed by both parents. Henriette died as a result of peritonitis following the birth of their third son George in 1842. Grandville married Catherine Marceline Lhuillier in 1843 and she had his fourth son, Armand  The third son George dies at age four in 1847. This was a mortal blow to the artist. He was described as going insane on March 14 and then died on March 17, 1847. He was just 44 years old.

Articles and Galleries about J.J. Grandville and his work

Wikipedia | | Wikimedia Commons | | Wikigallery | | British Museum | | Flickr. | | Princeton University Library | | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | | University of Virginia

J.J. Grandville related books available on Google Books

(Does not include books linked above.)

1888 - The Fables of Florian by Florian and J.J. Grandville. Translated by John Wolcott Phelps. Published by John B. Alden in New York.

1882 - Fábulas de Samaniego (Fables of Samaniego) by Félix María Samaniego and J. J. Grandville published by Liberia De Garnier Heranos in Paris.

1876 - Public and Private Life of Animals by P.J. Stahl. Published by Ballantyne, Hanson and Co. in London.

1868 - Le Diable à Paris: Paris et Les Parisiens À La Plume Et Au Crayon (The Devil in Paris: Paris and the Parisians in Pen And Pencil), Volume 1; Volume 3 by Paul Gavarni, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, and J. J. Grandville. Published by J. Hetzel in Paris.

1852 - Les fleurs animées (Animated flowers), Volume 1 by J. J. Grandville, Alphonse Karr, Taxile Delord. Published by A. Delavau in Brussels.

1852 - Tableau de Paris: Ouvrage Illustré de Quinze Gents Gravures (Table of Paris: Book Illustrated by Fifteen of Engravers), Volume 2 by Edmond Texier. Published by Paulin et Le Chevalier in Paris.

1850 - The Diverting Historie Of Renard The Fox. Translated by Quite George. Illustrations by J.J. Grandville. Published by Willoughby & Co. in London.


1849The Flowers Personified: Being a Translation of Grandville's "Les Fleurs" by J. J. Grandville, Alphonse Karr, Nehemiah Cleaveland, Taxile Delord, Alphonse de Candolle, J. N. Gimbrede, Raban... Published by R. Martin in New York.

1847 - L'image (The Image), Volume 1 by Eugène Delacroix, J. J. Grandville and Tony Johannot. Printed  by Mechanical Presses by Plox Brothers in Paris.

1847 - Eine Andere Welt (Another World) by Oskar Ludwig Bernhard Wolff and J.J. Grandville. Published by Carl D. Lorck in Leipzig.

1846 - Jérôme Paturot À La Recherche D'une Position Sociale (Jerome Paturot: Looking For A Social Position) by Louis Reybaud and J.J. Grandville. Published by J.J. Dubochet Le Chevalier in Paris.

1843 - Petites misères de la Vie Humaine (Small Miseries of Life), by Paul Émile Daurand Forgues and J. J. Grandville. Published by H. Fournier in Paris

1839 - Le musée pour Rire: Dessins par tous les caricaturistes de Paris (The Museum of Laughing: Drawings by every cartoonist in Paris); by M. Alhon, Louis Huart, Charles Philipon, Honoré Daumier, Paul Gavarni, J. J. Grandville. Published by Robert-Macaire in Paris.

1836 - Scènes de la Vie Privée et Publique des Animaux (Scenes of Privacy and Public Animal) by P. J. Stahl, J.J. Grandville, Honoré de Balzac and George Sand. 

18?? - Bilder aus dem Leben der Thiere (Images from the life of animals), Volume 2 in German by J. J. Grandville 

NEXT - John Leech

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