Sunday, July 13, 2008

"J. J. Grandville" (1803-1847)

J. J. Grandville was the pseudonym of Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard (1803-1847), a fantastical French illustrator who later inspired the Surrealists. He was born into a theatrical family and inherited the name Grandville from his grandparents, who had previously used it on stage. He made his name as a caricaturist, with memorable lampoons of his contemporaries, such as his famous image of the bombastic tendencies of Hector Berlioz's orchestra.

His genius bloomed into its fullest fruition in 1829, with Les Métamorphoses du jour, a series of seventy satirical scenes depicting human-animal crossbreeds.

I don't know whether Grandville ever met Gerard de Nerval, but they should have been pals. Surely, Max Ernst must have pored over Grandville's ouvre.

Later in his career, due to renewed censorship laws, Grandville shifted into book illustration, fashioning superbly-crafted images for literature like Fontaine's fables, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, and Don Quixote.

Wonderful as these are, his real genius lay in the bizarre and witty juxtapositions of his earlier work. Sadly, Grandville lived out his final years in a psychiatric asylum after his child choked to death beside him at the dinner table.

There is a nice tribute to Grandville's art on the great Bibliodyssey, along with links to more of his work.


Viviana F. said...

Una maravilla tu post.
No conocía a Grandville y me sorprendieron mucho las imágenes, en especial las de tarot.
Voy a buscar mi diccionario de inglés/español y juro que voy a leer todas tus notas. Lo que pude atisbar me gustó muchísimo.
Viviana Fernández

Steve Morrison said...

Gracias, Viviana!