Bourgeois Family on the Balcony
  • Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard, called GRANDVILLE
  • Nancy 1803 - 1847 Vanves / Paris
  • Bourgeois Family on the Balcony
  • Pen and brown ink over traces of pencil,
    partly brown wash, on beige paper
  • 292 × 224 mm
Private collection Nancy

This previously unpublished sheet magnificently illustrates the talented draughtsmanship, the gift for observation, as well as the cynical humour of the celebrated caricaturist, who adopted his grandparents’ artistic name Grandville at the start of his career. No longer satifsfied with painting, Grandville took up lithography and at the age of 24 issued his first comic cycle, Dimanche d’un Bourgeois de Paris. Shortly thereafter, he would enjoy his first success with the caricatures of the Métamorphoses du jour, having found the subject of his artistic life’s work. Before Honoré Daumier (1810-1879), Grandville led the opposition periodicals Caricature and Charivari, until the so-called September laws of 1835 severely hindered all politcal caricature. Afterward, he increasingly worked as a book illustrator, holding up a critical mirror to society with pithy human-animal parodies.

On the small stage of this balcony, Grandville presents with great insight into humanity a vain and presumptious bourgeois family watching an unknown street spectacle with relative reserve. Two mordant profile studies, probably of the young woman standing on the left, begin to undermine this apparent idyll, while the repetition of the group on the lower right as skeletons and nudes exposes everyone portrayed to ridicule.

The sheet likely represents an idea of Grandville’s for one of his series of critical lithographs.