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Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux

J.J. Grandville
Paris: J. Hetzel et Paulin
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Grandville’s success continued with the publication of Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux in 1842. His interest in caricature and in physiognomy, a popular pseudoscience at that time believing that an individual’s inner moral character can be read from one’s external appearance, created a perfect combination for satire. His illustrated vignettes were highly regarded as distinguished by the naturalism of the characters’ appearance, combined with the social commentary.

These visual parables of French society now have a softer focus, more atmospheric, an effect borrowed from theater design, called the tenebroso style. Grandville was a great fan of the theater, attending the Parisian theaters and making numerous drawings of the productions.

In this story by Paul de Musset, the Scènes titled Les souffrances d’un Scarabée (The Suffering of the Beetle) is about a philosophical, educated owl who is interested in Violet’s decorative beetle brooch.