Jules Grandjouan

Jules Grandjouan

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Ten Years of War or the Great Bourgeois Duperie.

© ADAGP, Library of contemporary international documentation / MHC

Publication date: April 2007

Historical context

First elections for French Communists

The war, "a catalyst of history" in Lenin's words, has profoundly upset the world balance, European order and French political life. But most of the elected officials remain alongside Léon Blum.

The French Communists, who halved between 1920 and 1924 and became more workers, must now conquer public opinion. This is the case of the designer Jules Grandjouan (1875-1968), famous for his anti-bourgeois provocations, notably in The Butter Plate.

Image Analysis

History revisited

The ten vignettes drawn by Grandjouan make up a ten-year calendar that is striking as much by the effect of repetition as by the differences. Each image in the series includes two characters, systematically opposing the people (the soldier) and their leaders (Poincaré, Albert Thomas, Clemenceau). From 1914 to 1917, the combatant appears above the leader; the following years, after the mutinies of 1917, it is on the contrary explicitly subjected to the constraint. Poincaré symbolizes this oppression three times, disguised as President of the Republic (1914), as a capitalist (1915), as "stashed from the back" (1917). Clemenceau, with his white goatee, looks like him physically, as if to reveal the lie of "bourgeois" democracy. Clemenceau's hands touch the fighter in different places, especially the back (cowardice) and neck (domination), and play with the gun between 1919 and 1921. As for the character of the soldier, he is by turns confident, fighter, haggard. , pierced with bullets, at the edge of the grave, threatening, helpless, invalid, miserable, and invader in spite of himself. The play of attitudes, the use of red color and discoloration, the changes of headdress (cap, helmet, bandages, kepi, soft felt) make this history of the people particularly impressive on the military and political front.


Mass pedagogy, class pedagogy

The titles of the vignettes and the short rhyming passages that comment on them leave the reader in no doubt: the Communists fiercely denounce the "Great Bourgeois Duperie" that was the imperialist war. Each time, the two lines chant the deceptive ritornello of the “bourgeoisie” denounced here by Grandjouan. Poincaré's hand play is remarkable, as it symbolizes the disappointed illusions of the combatants: the President indicates two directions at the start of the war (the front and the rear), he then makes an offering of ammunition and finally spreads rumors (at the start of the war). instead of extending a helping hand). Only 1919 broke with this widespread deception. The menacing soldier erected above Clemenceau symbolizes a people who do not disarm despite demobilization and who end up obtaining one of the main workers' demands: the eight-hour working day. But the fool's game then starts again: social peace is imposed, Reparations hide the resumption of economic exploitation. In 1923, on the eve of the elections and after the invasion of the Ruhr, Poincaré was joined by the socialist Blum and the radical Herriot. For Grandjouan, the working class therefore has only one recourse - the Communist Party, for which it also draws six other posters, including one showing the famous knife between its teeth ("Ah, your knife to deliver us!" "). The struggle continues. The masses are being called to the polls to turn the tide of history.

  • caricature
  • Communism
  • Clemenceau (Georges)
  • War of 14-18
  • propaganda
  • Third Republic
  • The Butter Plate
  • Blum (Leon)
  • Herriot (Edouard)
  • public opinion
  • Poincaré (Raymond)
  • working class


Maurice AGULHON, The Republic, volume II, “1932 to the present day”, Paris, Hachette, coll. "Pluriel", new enlarged edition, 1990. Jean-Jacques BECKER and Serge BERSTEIN, Victories and frustrations, 1914-1929, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points”, 1990. Jean-Jacques BECKER and Gilles CANDAR (eds.), History of lefts in France, volume II, "20th century, put to the test of history", Paris, La Découverte, 2004.Jules Grandjouan, creator of the illustrated political poster in France, catalog of the exhibition at the House of Book and Poster in Chaumont, Paris, Somogy, 2001.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Jules Grandjouan"

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