Gostrolatre cousin de frere jean des Entomeures

(Gostrolatre, cousin of brother Jean des Entomeures)

Attributed to:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Attributed to Style A
c 1740-c 1775 {nd}
Place of Production:
Paris, France
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

A fat-bellied chubby-faced man with heavy eyes and a long thin moustache walks trippingly to the right. He is dressed in a brown short sleeved tunic, which is unbuttoned at his waist, an undershirt and breeches. He wears white stockings with diagonally arranged thin brown stripes, black shoes, and a soft white cap with a peaked crown, which droops to the left. A string of sausages dangles like a necklace around his neck. A wide round-edged board is fixed to his waist. On it are arranged a number of different foodstuffs: a pie with a bird's head poking through the crust, a small white bird, sausages, eggs, and an empty wineglass. A second bird and a slotted spoon hang from the side of the board. In his right hand the man holds a spit or meat skewer with a large hunk of meat on it. His left hand is behind his back. Peeping above his left shoulder is an unidentifiable object with three triangular-shaped protrusions.

Curatorial Commentary

In Rabelais’ “Quart Livre” (ch. 57 ff.), Pantagruel visits the domain of Gaster, a monstrous giant with a colossal appetite. Here, the Gastrolasters make sacrifices to Gaster as god of the belly (Rabelais, 2006, pp. 834-47). There is a theological message deep-laid within this episode whereby Rabelais implicitly attacks idolatry and to some degree the doctrine of salvation by good works. This may link to the drawing on the page opposite , where the Jesuit missionary Duplessis looks as though he might even be selling indulgences.

Frère Jean des Entommeurs was not a cousin of Gaster, but rather a companion of Pantagruel. Abbot of Thélème, his motto was “Fais ce que tu voudras” (‘Do as you like’).

Writers of the Enlightenment found it difficult to warm to Rabelais’s writings, whose crudities offended genteel sensibilities. Voltaire was famously dismissive (Voltaire, 1768). Yet Rabelais continued to have a readership, and editions of his texts appeared throughout the eighteenth-century (Boulanger, 1925, p.73). Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin certainly was attracted to the author, who inspired a number of drawings in the “Livre de Caricatures” (e.g. 675.35, 675.76, 675.77). He appears to have appreciated the author’s indecorous and scatological tone and his satirical intent.

This drawing is in Style A, attributed to the principal author of the “Livre de Caricatures”, Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin. Style A displays a childish and naïve aesthetic and sometimes subject matter, and is characterised by crispness of execution, clear outlines and smooth application of colour. It is especially dominant in the early part of the book, from 675.3 to around 675.160. The opening inscription (675.1a) claims that the book was acquired from booksellers on the Paris quays in 1740 already containing drawings in another hand. The inscription states that ‘my friends put captions [underneath the drawings] and got me to continue this miscellany of follies’ (“mes amis y mirent des légendes et m’engagerent à continuer ce melange de folies”). This may be a tall story, explicable by Charles-Germain’s reluctance to admit authorship of the work. Charles-Germain was a versatile artist, and the possibility that he was responsible for the entire process in these initial drawings cannot be ruled out. In the drawings in the book not in Style A, Charles-Germain first made graphite sketches in much the same way. However it is possible that on the sections of the book dominated by Style A, Charles-Germain confined himself to working up existing graphite drawings, as well as adding details and also, with his friends’ assistance as he describes, the captions.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Gostrolatre cousin de frere jean des Entomeures
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

Top right corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
Gostrolatre, cousin of brother Jean des Entommeures
Pentimenti, above man, in graphite; the man once wore a hat with a taller crown.


Part of:
Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises. 675.1-389
Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Katie Scott; Saint-Aubin's jokes and their relation to...; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 349-403; p. 362n

Related literature

François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire; Lettre à son Altesse Monseigneur le Prince de **** sur Rabelais et sur autres auteurs accusés d'avoir mal parlé de la Religion Chrétienne; London, Paris?; 1768
Jacques Boulenger; Rabelais à travers les âges. Compilation suivi d'une bibliographie sommaire... d'une étude sur les portraits et d'un examen de autographes; Paris; 1925
François Rabelais, Mireille Huchon; Œuvres complètes; France; Éditions Gallimard; 1994
Shaun Regan, Translating Rabelais: Sterne, Motteux and the Culture of Politeness, Translation and Literature, x, 2001, 174-99

Indexed terms