Le Charivari

Two years after the founding of the illustrated newspaper LA CARICATURE, CHARLES PHILIPON (1800-1862), introduced a new publication (in Dec. 1832), which was to appear daily: LE CHARIVARI. With this paper he aimed at larger circulation numbers in order to reduce his risk with LA CARICATURE .

The word CHARIVARI can be traced back to the 17th century, when Italian artist A. CARACCI drew so-called “ritratti caricati”, absurd portraits and figures, literally translated: overloaded portraits. The Italian word “caricare” has its counterpart in the French word “charger” (engl. “load”). We can assume that the name CHARIVARI is based on these roots. Later, the word became part of the French language and had the meaning of loud and unmelodious cacophony.

An additional explanation for the word Charivari can be found in the Greek “Karebaria”, synonym for a headache based on loud disharmonic music from instruments, not necessarily of a musical background, such a pans, pots etc. Such “music” was presented as a serenade in the 18th century to elder men who married a young woman or vice versa. In France citizens expressed their discontent about elected politicians around the beginning of the 19th century by serenading them with such infernal presentations. A beautiful example of such a performance can be found in Daumier’s print DR 5033. Nowadays, a similar kind of Charivari-music is performed under the name of a “Guggemusik” during Carnival season in Basle, Switzerland. Some of the traditional “musical” groups are hundreds of years old and still carry the name Charivari today.

The VOCABULAIRE DES ENFANTS, DICTIONNAIRE PITTORESQUE, PARIS CHEZ AUBERT, MARCHAND D’ESTAMPES, ÉDITEUR, 1839 defines “Charivari” as riotous noise from pots, pans etc. accompanied by cries and shouts that were made in front of houses of widows and old women who remarried. There also exists a French verb: Charivariser, which means: giving a charivari to somebody.

LE CHARIVARI appeared first in December 1832 with Philipon as editor . It consisted of four pages (36 x 26 cm). An advertisement of the CHARIVARI announced that the paper published every day a new lithograph, unless it was prohibited by censorship… The format was enlarged in 1837 and again in 1858. Unlike in LA CARICATURE, the caricatures were printed directly on page 3 of each issue, therefore with text au verso. This complicated the printing process, requiring one step for the written text and another one for the illustration.

Charivari header of 1834

The price for an annual subscription of the daily newspaper in 1835 was 60 Francs for readers in Paris and 72 Francs for the rest of France, much less costly than for LA CARICATURE which was printed on better quality paper. In 1864, Louis Huart took over the job of editor for a short period of only 2 years, before he was replaced by Pierre Véron. LE CHARIVARI continued appearing until 1926, then as a weekly paper until 1937. The artists contributing with lithographs, woodcuts and (after 1870) with zincographies (gillotage) were DAUMIER, GAVARNI, GRANDVILLE, MONNIER, TRAVIÈS, DEVÉIRA, DECAMPS, CHAM, DORÉ and others. The texts came among others also from L. DESNOYERS, CLER, JAIME, HUART, and ROCHEFORT.

Charivari header of 1835

The journalists who were responsible for the captions and texts in the Charivari as well as the later Journal Amusant, Journal Pour Rire etc. received during Philipon’s time between 5 and 10 Centimes per published line. There was an upper limit of allowance per article. In average, they earned around 90 Francs per month. An unskilled worker in Paris received about 40 Francs per month. The situation improved around 1865, when Véron took over as editor in chief. Occasionally some 20 journalists were working for the paper.

As a consequence to new censorship laws, high bond payments had to be effected. This presented an ever increasing risk for the investor and subsequently the ownership of the paper changed frequently. After the notorious September laws had passed Parliament, stifling free press, Philipon sold the Charivari for 12’000 Francs to the Belgian Senator Lefèvre-Meuret while remaining as editor in chief until 1842. In December 1836 the paper was sold once again for 35’000 Francs to the owner of the newspaper Le Siècle, Armand Dutacq. When the new owner had serious financial difficulties, the Charivari was collateralised in 1839 as security for a bank and became a shareholding company in 1843. Louis Perrée bought the Siècle as well as the Charivari for 50’000 Francs.

DAUMIER’s contribution to the success of LE CHARIVARI was immense: During 40 years he delivered around 3’900 lithographs and hundreds of wood engravings. His first one appeared – unknown to many- on 15.12.1832 (DR 23), however his major regular oeuvre for the CHARIVARI started with DR 136 on January 24, 1833. His last print for the CHARIVARI was executed as DR 3946 on 18.12.1875. Each week he received between 3 and 5 lithographic stones from the CHARIVARI. Due to the character of the illustrations, he had to work fast. He drew onto the stone directly and very often numbered the stones for reference. The finished stone was delivered to the printer who made 2 to 3 prints: one was used for quality control and sometimes for DAUMIER to suggest corrections, the other one was for the text editor who had to make up a suitable text. From that version a new print was done carrying the “bon à tirer” (pass for press). At critical times this version had to be approved by the censor who gave his comment “yes” or “no” the same day. Only then the printing process could start. The lithographic stones were usually stored for a certain time. This way it was possible to edit special editions from the most successful prints at a later stage. Then the stones were erased, cleaned and prepared for a new procedure.

For the collector of today it may be interesting to know that the Charivari Office occasionally offered complete, bound back numbers of the Charivari at special sales prices. In the advertisement section of DR 1577 an entire collection from 1838 to 1843 is being offered at the special price of 150 Francs. Each volume containing 6 months of publication was alternatively available at 15 Francs per album.

Above you can see the different headers of the Charivari from 1832 to the end of the 19th century courtesy of the website “caricatures&caricature”.

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. copied a total of 2’934 complete Charivari editions in which most of Daumier’s ca. 3’900 prints are available to review. CLICK HERE to access all of these issues.

DR 2201 – French Charivari

DR 2201 – Charivari Belge

DR 2154 – French Charivari

DR 2154 – Charivari Belge

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.

London Charivari

In addition to the Belgian Charivari, there existed the LONDON CHARIVARI, “PUNCH”, published in London in 1841. The English engraver, Ebenezer Landells, together with Henry Mayhew, used Le Charivari as the model for their Punch magazine subtitled “The London Charivari”. The first edition was produced on July 17, 1841. The name was changed to PUNCH already for the second edition.

German Charivari

Between 1842 and 1851 a small German version was published under the name Charivari by E. M. Oettinger, which however was of no artistic importance.

According to an article in the Charivari dated May 26, 1847 (DR 1605) there existed a Charivari in the German city of BREMEN. Both editors of the paper were arrested by the Prussian authorities, although Bremen enjoyed the status of a “free town” (Freie Hansestadt). Unfortunately we were not able to find a sample of this short-lived edition.

Charivari de Berlin

Humoristisch-satyrisches Wochenblatt (see photo of the April 24, 1870 edition)

Satan – Berliner Charivari

Verlag von Louis Hirschfeld. See photo of the 1848 edition.

Charivari de Lyon

There also existed a Charivari de Lyon. Here we are showing a page illustration from this newspaper (Charges electorales, 9 lithographs printed by Chanoine, Place de la Charité 18, Lyon).

Le Charivari Lyonnais

New edition started in 1928. See here a cover page of the November 11, 1928 edition.

Charivari suisse Jan. 19, 1861

Last page with advertisements

Charivari suisse

Article by G. Stora, December 2007

There was also a Charivari suisse.

As a matter of fact, the exact title was “Carillon de Saint Gervais – Charivari suisse“. It was initiated by Philippe Corsat (1809 – 1874 ) and published in Geneva from 1854 to 1899. The 4 pages journal shows similarities with the french Charivari:

2 pages concerning socio-political news
1 page for humoristic drawing (although not a lithograph but an engraving reproduction), usually not signed
4 th page local advertisement

Differently the Carillon was not a daily publication but a weekly one issued on Saturday. Saint Gervais is one of the oldest districts in Geneva from middle age period. Interesting to note that “Le Libertaire“ published in New York in the 19th century was distributed in Switzerland by Mr Corsat at the office of the Carillon de St Gervais. The tone of the Charivari Suisse is one of independence, freedom, democratic type.

G. Stora Déc.2007

– J.P. Chuard Philippe Corsat Editeur du Carillon de St Gervais et ses amis vaudois RHV1981 127-150
– Internet www.imprimeriedesarts.ch about Ecomusée St Gervais ref les anciennes auberges de St Gervais –Café du père Zeier
– Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse

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Le Charivari Vaudois

In 1839 after the first appearance of the Charivari Suisse, another publication was issued in Lausanne under the name “Le Charivari Vaudois”. Design and lay-out were similar to the French and Swiss edition. We are showing here the first edition. To see additional examples of the Lausanne version, please go to the following link:


It should be noted that no wood engravings or lithographs by Daumier were added to this publication, as was the case in the original Parisian version.

Le Charivari canadien (Montréal, 1844)

The Indian Charivari or the Indian Punch

1876(?) – 1900, published in Calcutta: A, Acton. Distributor in London: Nicholls & Co.

Read here an elaborate article with numerous illustrations about this publication.