fricassée qui ne donne point d'indigetion

(Fricassee that does not give indigestion.)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
The first volume of the "Encyclopédie" appeared in 1751
Place of Production:
Paris, France
ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

A number of roughly sketched objects are heaped chaotically on a patch of ground. A large box-like structure, seemingly a sedan chair, dominates the left side of the composition, in which direction it leans. It has cut-out doors and windows and a convex roof with plumes decorating each corner. On its left there is a truncated column with fluted sides. A violin lies at its base. The violin is partially obscured by an unidentifiable object (possibly a picture frame or portfolio), over which a snake slithers, its head resting on the ground at the centre of the page. The body of the snake is entwined with other serpentine forms (the one in the foreground apparently truncated). In front of the snake there is a broken piece of a cornice or other architectural fragment and, to the right, a round-bodied vessel with a tall neck, the back of which appears to be shattered. On the ground to the far right there is a bow and a quiver of arrows and, in the distant background, the reverse-side of a canvas on a stretcher is visible. Also on the right of the composition there is an object, seemingly a closed book whose pages are visible above the mouth of the jug. A skull rests on the book's surface. A fluted column with rings carved around it is positioned behind the skull and leans towards the right. Behind it there is a large pennant on a spear. The tip of the pennant is draped over a strut that emerges from the left of the composition. The strut may belong to the sedan chair.

The left edge of the patch of ground on which the arrangement is situated has three portrait medallions hanging from it. A sharp spike positioned a little below the land, points upwards, overlapping with its edge.

Curatorial Commentary

The oblique lower caption is complemented by the upper inscription, which signals that this is a drawing about Diderot’s “Encyclopédie”, which began publication in 1751. The objects in this visual pot-pourri include emblems relating to fame and folly, celebrity and mortality. This assemblage of objects does not resemble – possibly deliberately so - the frontispiece to the “Encyclopédie”, designed by Charles-Nicolas Cochin, which was a crowded but highly schematic allegory of Reason and Philosophy revealing the figure of Truth.

Although Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin must have found much to support within the the “Encyclopédie” (not least its anti-clericalism), the sentiment about the excessively profuse and disordered character of the work is echoed in the drawing at 675.313, which suggests the work would benefit from straining or distillation.

The broken-down sedan chair resonates with the tortoise-carriage in 675.163 opposite. It is characteristic of a delight in fantastical means of conveyance demonstrated throughout the “Livre de Caricatures”, which depicts real and imaginary modes of transport, ranging from fantastical animal steeds (e.g. 675.14, 675.66) through to bizarre conveyances (e.g. 675.61, 675.218).

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
fricassée qui ne donne point d'indigetion
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, top of page, in ink

Top left corner, in ink; first digit truncated by page's edge

Top left, in ink
Translation of inscription
Fricassee that does not give indigestion.
Underdrawing, centre of page, in graphite; figurative scene, possibly depicting a man extending a hand towards the head of another; obscured.


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. 363n, 372n

Related literature

Denis Diderot, Jean d' Alembert; Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences des Arts et des Metiers, xxxv vols [Paris: 1751-80]; Paris; Pergamon Press; 1969
Robert Darnton; The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopedie, 1775-1800; Cambridge, London; 1979

Indexed terms