When a whole issue of a satirical magazine is devoted to drunkards, or poivrots...
L'assiette au Beurre is a French satirical magazine which was an icon of humor during its short existence, between 1901 and 1912. Its format was simple ; each issue featured 16 full-page drawings, most of the time caricatures made by a single artist, people like Jean Veber, Bernard Naudin, Delanoy, Grandjouan, Jossot, Felix Vallotton, François Kupka, Camara or D'Ostoya. This time was a turbulent one in France with a strong anticlericalism and anarchist undercurrent. From our modern point of view these times seem wildly free with a press without boundaries, particularly for the satirical newspapers (much of the content would be censored today by the political-correctness police for hate incitement...).
This issue, which is dated july 27 1907 and was sold on the streets for 50 centimes, is devoted entirely to drunkards, and it is again hard to imagine such a publication today without the wrath of various taxpayer-funded associations specialized in victimization trials. The artist here is Gustave-Henri Jossot (1866-1951), who joins L'Assiette au Beurre from the start, many of the staff being what we would call today radical anarchists targetting through their drawings the usual suspects of that time, the bourgeoisie, the military and the catholic church among others. Ironicaly (or not so ironically), Jossot settled later to Tunisia in 1911 and converted to Islam in 1913...
Absinth has its place here and there in these drawings and captions : in 1906, the Ligue Nationale Française Antialcoolique made a petition against absinth (sounds familiar...) and in 1907, both vignerons (alas, yes !) and anti-alcohol leagues demonstrated in Paris to have absinth banned, which happened a year later in 1908 through a law...(source on this page).
These drawings are to be taken for what they are : these are probably scenes caught by a witness of the street and cafés life. Some of these drawings are very beautiful, if their humoristic value is so-so at best.
The paper has turned yellow after more than a century but I mostly left it this way. I found this gem last november while having my lunch break from work at the Saint-Mandé weekly flea market. I'm not into collectible books but the guy wanted only 5 € for it, so i bought it.
Click on the pics for larger versions.
Extracts from L'assiette au Beurre with commentaries in English.