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Frankreichs höhere Balletkunst 1904

  • Author: GALANTARA, Gabriele (artist)
  • Publisher: Der Wahre Jacob, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Date: 1904
  • Dimensions: map sheet: 23 x 32.5 cms (forming 1 page of 4-page issue of complete magazine)


Rare 1904 cartoon map of France & neighbouring countries depicting the impact of recently introduced anti-clerical legislation

About this piece:

Frankreichs höhere Balletkunst im Dienste der Freiheit

[France’s higher Ballet Art at work for Freedom]

Colour-printed lithographic engraving, the rear page of a complete 4-page (double-page) issue of Der Wahre Jacob, Nr.475 (4 Oct 1904), the front page with colour cartoon, the two inside pages with letterpress & two small in-text woodblock cartoons. Fine condition.

This unusual satirical cartoon was the work of Italian caricaturist & former mathematics student, Gabriele Galantara (pseud:Rata Langa) [1867-1937], best known for his role as co-founder of the Italian satirical magazine L’Asino (The Donkey) in Rome in 1892. By the turn of the 20th Century, L’Asino‘s content had become increasingly anti-clerical and it is this theme, as it relates to the contemporary situation in France, that is addressed here in the October 1904 issue of the Stuttgart-based German satirical magazine, Der Wahre Jacob, a publication for which Galantara also provided a regular supply of biting political cartoons throughout this pre-war period.

With the ongoing fall-out of the Dreyfus Affair, the political and religious climate in France in 1904 was one imbued with an increasingly anti-clerical agenda. The leftist Bloc des Gauches, under successive Prime Ministers Emile Combes & Maurice Rouvier, introduced a series of measures which finally brought about a long-sought secularist laïcité – a clear division between French Church and State, as formalized in the December 1905 Law on the Separation of the Church & State.

The 1905 legislation was preceded by an ongoing series of measures that penalized & systematically dismantled the religious orders and institutions which had hitherto played such an important & influential role in the French education system as well as in wider French society. Teaching by the Church & other religious bodies was banned in July 1904, whilst many of France’s ancient monastic orders, such as the Carthusians and Benedictines, were closed down and their properties confiscated. French religious communities left France in droves, seeking exile in neighbouring European countries, as vividly depicted here. Galantara pokes particular fun at the special connection between these religious orders and their production of popular alcoholic liqueurs such as Chartreuse and Benedictine, whose banners & bottles are carried by groups of merry monks marching across Southern France towards the Italian border.

Note also the particularly effusive welcome given to exiled clerics, monks and nuns by the German Chancellor, Bernhard von Bülow. In Italy, the recently elected Pope, Pius X, kneels in tearful prayer, no doubt reflecting on the unwelcome breach in diplomatic relations that had recently taken place between France & the Holy See in July 1904, following his steadfast refusal to grant the power of episcopal appointment to an increasingly antagonistic French Government.

France herself is depicted as one of the topless cancan dancers of Montmatre’s Folies Bergères, the epitome of the fun-loving, modern, secular, progressive Belle Epoque. Switzerland is a spiked hedgehog, Germany the sleepy pipe-smoking Deutsche Michel in his nightcap, whilst Great Britain, in the guise of a portly John Bull, looks on with self-satisfied amusement.

Refs: Lisa Dittrich: Antiklerikalismus in Europa [2014]: Illustration on front cover; Laurent Baridon: Un Atlas Imaginaire [2011] pp.132-133 (ill)