4+51+5 sheets (25 1/2 x 19 in.; 650 x 480 mm). Complete unfolded set of 51 lithographic posters and the original supplement of 5 additional posters; preceded by a series of four heliographic prints (1871). Edges lightly browned; nos. 1-6 slightly wormed: nos. 49-51 and supplement nos.1-5 creased and with chipping at lower edges; Loosely bound within red 3/4 morocco over mottled paper, boards and spine defective and worn.
Norman L. Kleeblatt. The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth & Justice, Berkeley and Los Angeles: 1987; Ruth Malhotra, Horror-Galerie: Ein Bestiarium der dritten Franzosischen Republik, Dortmund: 1980.
A rare complete set including all fifty-one original posters and the five posters of the supplement
The story of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army is widely known. Falsely accused of treason for selling military secrets to Germany and convicted of treason by a secret military commission, Dreyfus was stripped of his rank and imprisoned on Devils' Island. It was only after the affair had dragged on for a dozen years that Dreyfus was finally cleared of all charges by the court of appeals, exonerated and reinstated. French society was deeply divided by the Dreyfus case and mob violence and hostile rhetoric led to widespread and virulent anti-Semitic expression in the popular press.
This exceedingly scarce series of intensely provocative color lithographs was only one example of the virulent reaction to the Dreyfus Affair. The identity of the artist who signed each of the drawings (in the plates) is unknown beyond the pseudonym of V. Lenepveu, although some of the scholarly literature has identified him as Victor. It is probable that the series was promulgated by Léon Hayard, the independent publisher who in addition to his likely involvement with Musée des horreurs, distributed a wide variety of anti-Dreyfus material including posters, pamphlets and even knick-knacks.
In addition to provocative images of Alfred Dreyfus and Emile Zola, the journalist who took up Dreyfus' cause and penned the famous missive J'accuse, the remaining caricatures by Lenepveu excoriate a variety of prominent Dreyfusards, Republican statesmen and Jews, including no fewer than eight separate representations of members of the prominent Jewish Rothschild family. Fernand Labori, the defense attorney for both Dreyfus and Zola who was shot but not killed in an assassination attempt is also depicted as are former Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, leading Socialist Jean Jaures and journalist Caroline Remy Guebhard.
The publication of Musee des Horreurs was halted by the police after 51 numbers had been published. Lenepveu, who had alternately promised that the series would contain either 150 or 200 portraits turned to a variation on his theme and began issuing instead a series entitled Musee des Patriotes offering the posters for sale to the public and providing it as a bonus to subscribers of the original series. These extremely rare supplements depicted the opposite side of the spectrum than the Musee des Horreurs, focusing on a variety of right-wing idols and anti-Semitic demagogues in the mold of Edouard Drumont. Apparently the same audience that was attracted to the Horreurs with their scatological and bestial imagery, was not as willing to purchase the heroic representations of the Patriotes, and the series ended after only five numbers were issued.
Also in this volume, preceding the posters, is a series of heliographic portraits dated 1871, of four former Prime Ministers of France: Louis-Adolphe Thiers, Jules Simon, Jules Ferry and Leon Gambetta. None of them were still living at the time of the Dreyfus affair. Simon and Gambetta in particular were often accused of being of Jewish descent and were frequently associated with Jewish causes in the widespread anti-Semitic writings prevalent in France in the final decades of the 19th century. Simon in fact, had been a prominent supporter of the Alliance Israelite Universelle from its inception until his death in 1896.
It is difficult to exaggerate the influence of the Dreyfus Affair, both on Jewish history and on French politics. In France the fractured left-wing groups united to form the Radical and the Socialist parties, shifting the balance of power in the Parliament for most of the first half of the 20th century. And for Jews, the 12-year ordeal intensified anti-Semitism in France, enflaming the riots and violence which helped convince Theodor Herzl that Jews needed a homeland in Palestine.
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