Le Charivari Belge
Apart from the French Charivari there also existed a CHARIVARI BELGE, printed and edited in Brussels, Belgium, between May 16, 1838 and April 10, 1841. In the 1850’s it reappeared under the name: LE CHARIVARI – ÉDITION BELGE. The illustrations are by Félicien Rops and others. We were able to identify with the help of Gil Stora, Belgium more than 100 prints by Daumier published in the CHARIVARI BELGE: among others DR 520, 537, 579, 580, 749, 2140, 2143, 2144, 2145, 2146, 2147, 2148, 2149, 2152, 2154, 2155, 2156, 2157, 2158, 2159, 2160, 2161, 2162, 2163, 2164, 2165, 2166, 2167, 2168, 2169, 2171, 2185, 2186, 2190, 2201, 2235, 2246, 2300, 2367, 2373.
A complete list can be found in the Daumier-Register.
The French Charivari was carried over the border into Belgium. A local artist made copies of the illustrations on a virgin lithographic stone. The paper was then published a few days later. According to information by Gil Stora taken from Jacques Hellemans “Le Charivari Belge et Napoléon III ” Le livre et l’estampe, XXXIX1993, N°139 Brussels, an artist by the name of Mangioni was, most probably, responsible for copying the prints from the French newspaper version onto the stone. Due to the copying process, the quality of the illustrations is somewhat crude compared to the French CHARIVARI prints (see the examples presented below).
Félicien Rops, the person responsible for the paper, had registered at the Academy of Art in Namur, Belgium. At the age of 18 he immatriculated at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (University of Brussels) where he moved in the intellectual, lampoonist and artistic circles of the time. He showed a talent as a fierce caricaturist in both the CHARIVARI BELGE and the “Uylenspiegel”, which he founded with Charles de Coster in 1856.
The way the original Charivari prints were transferred to Brussels seems to allow some thoughts for speculation. The fact remains that an original Charivari was transported to Brussels, where its editorial section was used without important changes, while the advertisement part was adjusted and specifically printed to satisfy the Belgian readership. You will notice an add for “fritures” in the section photographed below.
From a copyright angle it seems amazing that a local artist was asked by the management of the Charivari Belge to copy the original lithographic print from the Paris paper for the Belgian version. Daumier’s lithographs as well as prints by his colleagues Cham, Vernier etc. were thus regularly reproduced, even the monogram or signature of the respective artist was occasionally copied. We have not yet been able to confirm whether the editors of the Charivari Belge copied their French counterpart with full approval of the Paris editors ( M. Augustini), or whether we experience here an early case of copyright infringement. From a technical point of view it would have been quite easy for the French editor ( Aubert at that time) to produce a transfer lithograph from the original stone, which the Belgians could have used for reproduction, without going to the trouble of copying from a printed newspaper edition.
In the literature about the Charivari Belge it is frequently noted that the import of the Belgian version to France was strictly prohibited and samples of the paper confiscated by French authorities at the border. Could it be that the Belgian version, which was sold 2 to 3 times cheaper than the French edition, was sold clandestinely in the north-eastern provinces of France, thus damaging the subscription of the Paris Charivari in this region? An argument one encounters occasionally states that the French editor purposely sent lithographs of politically dangerous subjects to have them published in Belgium. It can hardly be supported, since most of the prints in the Belgian edition were entirely apolitical and had been published in France already five days earlier without having encountered any confrontation with the censorship office.
We must therefore assume that the Charivari Belge was most likely a non authorized edition. The Daumier lithographs cannot be considered being of the same “original” quality as the ones published in Paris. Similar to the technique of a wood engraving, a second artist copied and thereby re-interpreted the original drawing of the master. Consequently the Belgian “Daumiers” are inferior and not original, printed furthermore on thin low quality newspaper. However, in order to facilitate the information access for the Daumier collector, we have added a new state to the Daumier Register (the new digital work catalogue soon to be published), indicating specifically the Belgian version. We hope to help the inexperienced collector to more easily identify the copy from the original and we invite the museums to screen the above Delteil numbers in their collections.
It may be of interest to note that the Charivari Belge prints have become extremely rare and are quite difficult to find on the market, while the matching originals from the Paris version are still easily available.