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Carte Allegorique du Vice et de ses Resultats

  • Publisher: Imprimerie Lemercier, Paris
  • Engraver: Grandnom
  • Date: 1882
  • Dimensions: sheet: 64 x 48.5 cms / map: 59.5 x 36 cms


Exceedingly rare allegorical morality map of the Empire of Vice, regionally divided between the Seven Deadly Sins, Paris 1882

About this piece:

Carte Allegorique du Vice et de ses Resultats

Lithographic map with printed colour. Wide margins. Some minor repairs and reinforcements on central fold in blank margins and at sheet edges only. Some light marginal soiling & dusting. With all a fine example.

In similar but contrasting vein to the allegorical map of the Peninsula of Perfection, this equally rare and unusual late 19th Century allegorical map provides a cautionary moral & instructional guide to the Empire of Vice, Immorality & the Seven Deadly Sins.

Dating from 1882 and designed by an artist called Grandnom – perhaps a pun – the map was printed in Paris by the well-known Lemercier Printing Press, 57 Rue de Seine.

A map of identical title published in Clermont-Ferrand by Vve Petit in 1880 is also recorded but is attributed to the mysterious Abbé Faure.

There is no scale, though it is denoted bottom centre with one simple word: Conscience (La Conscience).

Just as Catholic educators depicted the Peninsula of Perfection separated from the Continent of the World by a narrow isthmus, here a similar morality map depicts the Empire of Vice, separated from the adjacent land of Society by a high and impenetrable range of mountains.  The only accessible way through these mountains is via a single track rail road, the Flight Railway, by which those who wish to reform travel back by way of the intermediate stations of Firm Resolution, Rest, Contentment & Return to the important settlement of Family, firmly situated in the land of Society.  From Family there are onward connections along the Route to Repentance. The moral is self-evident.

The description in columns on either side of the map provides a detailed explanation of this morally dark and degrading Land:


Vice is bordered on the North by the Range of the Mountains of Duty which separate it from Society. In the East the Ocean of Sadness; In the West Society & Justice; to the South, Virtue, the Sea of Boredom & the Sea of Infamy.


Vice is divided into 7 Departments which are: Pride (L’Orgueil), Greed (L’Avarice), Lust (La Luxure), Envy (L’Envie), Gluttony (La Gourmandise), Anger (La Colère) & Sloth (La Paresse).

Each of the 7 Departments has its own capital: Vanity (Pride) , Insatiability (Greed), Immodesty (Lust), Slander (Envy), Drunkenness (Gluttony), Fury (Anger) & Theft (Sloth). The 7 Departments are further subdivided by arrondissement (39) & commune (61), the name of each of these reflecting a characteristic associated with the respective Deadly Sin.

Seas & Gulfs

Vice is washed by the waters of the Ocean of Sadness to the East and by the Seas of Boredom & Infamy to the South. The Ocean of Sadness forms three gulfs, that of Grief (Chagrin), Tears (Larmes) & Worry (L’Inquiétude). The Sea of Boredom forms one gulf, that of Corruption. The Sea of Infamy forms four, that of Remorse (Remords), Ignominy (L’Ignominie), Disapproval (L’Opprobre) & Death (Mort).


There is only one Lake, that of the Slough (Bourbier), located in the Department of Lust (Luxure)

Straits, Capes, Isles and Peninsulas

There are two Straits, that of Sighs (Soupirs) separating Vice from Virtue and that of Cowardice (Lâcheté), which separates the Peninsula of Sadness from the Isle of Despair (Isle du Désespoir). There is only one Cape, that of Crime in the south of Lust. There is only one Island situated in the Sea of Infamy, that of the Isle of Despair, whose Capital is Suicide. There is only one Peninsula, that of Sadness (La Douleur) in the south of Lust

Streams & Rivers

There is only one River, that of Tribulations, which has seven tributaries: 3 on the right bank which are: Dirt (Fange), which irrigates Lust; Misery (La Misère) which irrigates Sloth; and Idiosy (l’Idiotisme) which irrigates  Gluttony. 4 on the left bank which are: Worry (L’Inquiétude) which irrigates Envy; Ruin (Ruine) which irrigates Pride; Terror (La Frayeur) which irrigates Greed; and Folly (La Folie) which irrigates Anger.


There are eight in total, of which: The Usury Railway in Greed; the Slander (Calomnie) Railway in Envy; the Railway of Habitual Drunkeness (l’Ivrognerie) in Gluttony; the Vengeance Railway in Anger; the Theft Railway in Sloth; the seventh is the central line of Blindness (l’Aveuglement) which departs from Pride to the frontier of the region of Justice; the eighth is a branch line or the Flight Railway, leading directly to the bosom of the Family, for those who want to reform.”

Beyond the western frontiers of Vice is a correctional buffer zone between Vice and Society – this is the land of Justice, whose Capital is Gendarmerie and where the rule of Law clearly prevails. Her numerous settlements and stations include Police, Prison, Court of Appeal, Assize Courts, Clairvaux (a famous penitentiary) etc. A circular loop – the Route of Repentance – offers an opportunity for redemption & reform through the workings of the penal system, but the almost inevitable alternative leads literally to a dead-end via the Railway of Death to terminus at the Scaffold (L’Echafaud).

In the critical debates in the French Chamber of Deputies in March 1879 over the laicisation of French primary education & the reduction of the predominant influence of the French Catholic Church, it was the viciously anti-clerical deputé for the Yonne Department, Paul Bert [1833-1886], who brought his oratorical guns to bear on exactly such allegorical morality maps. These were employed by Catholic teachers & educators as school homework and as everyday exercises for moral & spiritual instruction & contemplation. Many examples of such pieces were brought to Bert’s attention by sympathetic correspondents across the whole of France.

A highly critical article by fellow anti-clerical journalist, Edouard Lockroy, in the newspaper Le Rappel in  March 1879, claimed such maps were a means of “removing from the child every correct idea, every serious thought, amusing them with mysteries and filling them up with twaddle”, so completely addling their rational minds and stultifying their natural intelligence as to create “a sort of living cadaver, who belongs only to the Church.”

Interestingly one such map which Bert is known to have cited & ridiculed appears to have been  almost identical to this one. Entitled “Carte Allegorique de L’Empire du Vice avec ses Resultats” it was drawn by hand by fifteen year old Marie Mouraux, a pupil of the communal school in Aresches (Jura). Its design and features appear identical in almost every respect to this map.

In summary, an extremely rare and unusual allegorical map, especially interesting for the influential role that it and maps like it evidently played in the heated debate over the Catholic framework of the French education system in the late 1870s & in the increasingly strident anticlerical agitation, through such figures as Paul Bert, for its complete laicisation.


Jacqueline Laloulette: Libre-Pensée en France, 1848-1940 [2001], p.237; Bibliographie de la France [1882], Cartes et Plans, p.48.