Food for Thought: Consuming and Digesting as Political Metaphor in French Satirical Prints

  • Dorothy Johnson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This essay studies French satirical prints made after the Revolutions of 1789 and 1830, depicting the consuming and digesting body as a means of critiquing the stupidity, cupidity, and corruption of governments. In his 1831 caricature, Gargantua, Daumier depicts an obese Louis-Philippe seated on his toilet/throne devouring taxes paid by the poor and digesting them into awards for the elite. The monarch’s huge belly reveals how much of this wealth he has metabolized into his own fat. The caricatures hearken back to a visual language of prints from the first French Revolution—for example, the aristocratic elite devouring and digesting “the people”. Jacques-Louis David’s scatological prints of 1793, still understudied today, are examined here as well as the influence of British satirists.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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