après la mort de l'abbé Paris en 1732 il n'étoit petit ni grand qui n'aprit afaire des postures.

(After the death of the abbé Pâris in 1732, there was no one, either great nor small, who did not learn to do postures.)

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:

An oddly-dressed figure stands at the centre of the page. His body leans a little to the right and his left foot is stretched out in front of him. He wears a long belted one-piece parti-coloured outfit, the right side green, the left brown, with a ragged white collar. His right leg is encased in a long basket and he wears mismatching shoes. The one on his right foot is clog-like, the other on his left is a red slipper. A small bag hangs from a strap around his left shoulder. On his head he wears a black conical hat with a crooked crown and long floppy brim, which hangs down over his face. Sticking out from behind the hat is a leafy branch. His eyes peep through a rip or hole in the hat’s brim. They glare fiercely towards the right. A sword with a curved blade hangs from his waist and with both hands he grips a long staff with a forked end, which he holds diagonally across his body.

Curatorial Commentary

The pious Jansenist deacon, François de Pâris, died in 1727, not 1732. Following his death, his graveside in the cemetery of Saint-Médard in the Faubourg Saint-Marcel in Paris became the site of remarkable miraculous cures, convulsions and prophetic performances. These goings-on became a matter of state, involving the church authorities and the Parlement of Paris, and developed into a spectator event, drawing large crowds. The king closed the cemetery altogether in 1734. By then, the ‘convulsionaries’ were widely mocked as little more than frauds and fairground performers who adopted ludicrous poses and postures.

The convulsionaries remained a repressed presence within Paris over the next decades, and there are other largely humorous depictions and representations of them elsewhere in the “Livre de Caricatures” (e.g. 675.22, 675.326).

There seems, however, little to link this drawing overtly to the Jansenists. The caption is not in Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s hand. A later addition, it perhaps conveys a meaning which he had not intended. Shorn of the Jansenist imputation, the image shows a rather extraordinarily attired individual preparing for combat against the individual shown on the facing page (675.101).

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
après la mort de l'abbé Paris en 1732 / il n'étoit petit ni grand qui n'aprit afaire / des postures. 1732
Inscribed in an unknown hand, below image, in ink

Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
After the death of the abbé Pâris in 1732, there was no one, either great or small, who did not learn to do postures. 1732.
Around sword hilt and staff, in graphite; the staff was once three-pronged and the hilt straight and to the left of its current position.


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



Julian Swann; Politics and religion; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 117-150; p. 130

Related literature

B. Kreiser; Miracles, Convulsions, and Ecclesiastical Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris; Princeton; Princeton University Press; 1978
John McManners; Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France; Oxford; The Clarendon Press; 1998. vol. ii, pp. 433-55

Indexed terms