A look at the English at the start of the 20th centurye century

A look at the English at the start of the 20th century<sup>e</sup> century

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"The English at home", L’Assiette au Beurre, n ° 92

© Public establishment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée

Publication date: April 2016

Heritage Curator, Head of Historical Collections, National Museum of the History of Immigration

Historical context

From Paris as a world city to the representation of the foreigner in The Butter Plate

At the beginning of the XXe century, Paris was marked by the acceleration of globalization and became a veritable international artistic crossroads. Many artists contributing to the review The Butter Plate are foreigners, like Kees Van Dongen, Dutch, Leonetto Cappiello, Italian, Félix Vallotton, Swiss, and Francisco Sancha y Lengo, aka Sancha, Spanish. The latter, trained at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga, Spain, became a pupil of Juan Gris, a cubist painter.

In this context, The Butter Plate has devoted nearly one thousand three hundred drawings to foreign countries and to the figure of the foreigner, which she freezes by emphasizing certain features. The review, created in 1901 by Samuel Schwarz, had a difficult start; his humorous editorial line was then reinforced in 1903, by uniting art and satire.

The image of the United Kingdom underwent many changes between 1901 and 1912. This attitude is very much linked to the Boer War, especially when the United Kingdom seized the Transvaal and Orange in South Africa.

Image Analysis

"The English at home"

The year 1903 begins with this one: a portrait of an Englishman. The man, represented as a bust, stands out against a bright orange background. He wears a town suit and an indoor beanie slipping over his poorly combed hair. The Englishman has clear eyes lost in the dark, protruding ears and an extremely red nose contrasting with his long black mustache.

Sancha's drawing evokes Anglophobia, as he uncompromisingly paints an Englishman whom he categorizes as a drunkard. The caricature transgresses the canons of human representation and thus stigmatizes the associated moral values.

The Butter Plate innovates in comparison with other contemporary journals such as The laugh, especially in the layout. Here, few black and white vignettes are offered, and the quality of the artists is privileged to the detriment of the number of illustrations. The palette remained lively until 1911, and the slight burrs on the edges of the colors were linked to the printing technique used: photoengraving on a zinc plate.


Caricature and history

In 1903, France and Great Britain came together and sealed a historic agreement, the Entente Cordiale ... The press relayed this new attitude, and The Butter Plate is favorable to the British. Then, in 1912, Sancha moved to London.

Inherited from the French Revolution, the cartoon is a humorous testimony to a current issue and its debates. In this spirit, The Butter Plate criticized the army, the police, the judiciary, the deputies, the clergy, the worker ...

Published in the press, the caricature is presented as a witness to the circulation of ideas. As it is an immense source of information on public opinion, stereotypes but also political and social imaginaries, historians were therefore the first to study it. Since the 1970s, caricature has been approached in a more interdisciplinary approach.

  • caricature
  • The Butter Plate
  • Britain
  • anti-colonialism
  • satirical press
  • immigration

Study in partnership with:


TENTH Élisabeth, TENTH Michel, The Butter Plate: Illustrated Satirical Review (1901-1912), Paris, F. Maspero, coll. "Collection of the Center for the History of Syndicalism" (no 3), 1974.

LE MEN Ségolène, "Research on 19th century caricature: inventory", Perspective (19th century), no 3, 2009, p. 426-460.

PANTORBA Bernardino by, Historia y crítica de las Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes celebradas en España, Madrid, Jesús Ramón García-Rama, 1980 (1st ed. Madrid, Alcor, 1948).

TILLIER Bertrand, "Caricatural in the art of the 20th century", Perspective (20th-21st centuries), no 4, 2009, p. 538-558.

To cite this article

Magdalena RUIZ MARMOLEJO, “A Look at the English at the Beginning of the XXe century "

Video: American Literature of the 20th Century


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