Mardy gras conduisant les andouilles farfelües a la guerre contre panurge

(Mardi gras leading the zany sausages to war against Panurge)

Attributed to:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
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 red-faced man stands at the centre of the page. His body is angled towards the right, and his face is turned towards the left. His left foot, which is placed in front of his right, stands in a small pan. A hog-like creature runs between his legs towards the left. To his right is a line of seven sausages of different lengths standing up on their ends. The sausages get progressively shorter and lighter in colour the further they are along the line to the right. Two short dark sausages, also pointing upwards, stand in front of the line of seven. Two strings of small sausages and one very long looped sausage form a series of swags beneath the patch of land on which the man is situated.

The man smiles, showing his teeth. He is dressed in brown with white stockings and black shoes. A single long sausage hangs around his neck and a red and white striped apron is tied about his waist. Tucked into the apron strings is a long roasting spit that extends out to the right and on which a plucked chicken has been skewered. A pierced spoon also hangs from the spit. A small saucepan and a bird with its wings outstretched are also tucked into his apron strings. The bird hangs down in front of the man’s crotch. The man wears a curious hat with a broad, irregularly shaped brim. The handle of a griddle-pan sticks out in front of the brim. Where one would expect to find the crown of the hat there is a human mask or even a crouching figure. With both hands the man holds up a pie with the head of a bird poking through its crust. Tucked beneath his left arm is long thin staff surmounted with a wooden spoon and a white flag on which the word ‘NiPhleseth’ is written. Two strings of sausages hang from the staff.

Curatorial Commentary

The drawing refers to an episode in Rabelais' “Pantagruel”, in which Pantagruel and his assembled soldier-cooks, including Panurge, do battle with the “andouilles farfelues”, a group of warrior-sausages that inhabit the Île Farouche. The sausages, who are in thrall to Mardi Gras, believe Pantagruel to be Quaremeprenant, the personification of Lenten austerity, who is depicted on the opposite page (675.77). The skirmish is only stopped by the arrival of Niphleseth, Queen of the Sausages, whose name is inscribed on the banner held by the figure depicted here (Rabelais, 2006, pp.766-89.)

Writers of the Enlightenment generally 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 (e.g. 675.75, 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
Inscribed, probably by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, on flag, in ink

Mardy gras conduisant les andouilles farfelües a la / guerre contre panurge
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, bottom, in ink

Mardy gras
Inscribed, probably by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, beneath strings of sausages below image, in ink. This inscription is very faded and all but obscured by the sausages drawn over it.

Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
Mardi gras leading the zany sausages to war against Panurge
Mardi gras
Pentimenti, left of man, right of sausages, in graphite; the man once wore a short cloak, and another sausage stood to the right of the line of those standing on end.


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



Colin Jones, Emily Richardson; Archaeology and materiality; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 31-53; pp. 47n, 50n
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; pp. 362n, 378, 398

Related literature

François Rabelais; La vie tres horrificque du Grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel, iadis composee par M. Alcofribas; Lyon; Francoys Luste; 1542
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
M A Katritzky; The Art of Commedia. A Study in the Commedia Dell'Arte, 1560-1620; Amsterdam; Rodopi; 2006. on sausages and other carnival meats, see pp. 192-5
François Rabelais, Michael Screech; Gargantua and Pantagruel; London; Penguin Books; 2006. pp. 766-89

Indexed terms