hebien! touttes les cruches ne Sont pas la.

(Well! All the jugs are not here.)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Additional handwriting by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu (b.c 1784, d.1869)
1822-1869 {One inscription by Tardieu}
Place of Production:
Paris, France
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

A series of jugs line a horseshoe-shaped platform with a raised dais at its centre. The platform encloses a space in which a small table covered in green cloth has been set up. Behind the table, standing on a stool, is a jug. It leans across the table and appears to peer at a second jug lying in front of it. Two others, one standing on another stool, the other with the bell-end of a trumpet sticking out of its mouth, line up behind it. Coins, each marked with a small ‘x’, spill from the mouth of the jug lying on the floor: a trail of them traces a line between it and another jug standing on top of the three-step dais. This jug dominates the scene both by virtue of its position and its size. It wears a full wig and bands; two moneybags lie at the jug's base. The handle of the jug is held by a woman in court dress. She steps out from behind the green curtain hanging across the upper right-hand corner. To the right of the jug, standing on the second step of the dais is a jug wearing a pair of oversized spectacles.

Fifteen jugs, many of them accessorized or containing objects, line the length of the curved platform that extends from either side of the raised dais. The jugs on the arm nearest the picture plane contain, from left to right, sheet music, flowers, fireworks, flowers again (some of which are in the form of a garland encircling its bulbous body), and a fan coupled with more flowers (this time wrapped around its handle). Among those jugs standing on the arm of the platform furthest away from the picture plane, one contains a whip, another a selection of mathematical instruments. The jugs are turned in towards one another as if in conversation.

Curatorial Commentary

This drawing by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin puns on the word “cruche”, meaning either jug or fool. It evokes a political crisis of 1763 involving parlements throughout France, whose members are represented here as jugs.

The crisis of 1763 took the form of nationwide resistance against financial measures introduced by Controller-General Henri Bertin, and intended to stabilise state finances in the wake of the disastrous Seven Years’ War (1756-63). The measures included a continuation of additional direct taxes which had been levied during the war but which the parlements regarded as inappropriate for peace-time. The Paris Parlement remonstrated against the decrees in May, and then again on repeated occasions over the summer of 1763, despite the crown’s best efforts to overcome their resistance. The crisis spread out into the provinces, notably in Normandy, Dauphiné and Languedoc, where provincial parlements also issued remonstrances and blocked implementation of the financial decrees.

The royal commandant in the Languedoc was Charles, duc de Fitz-James, grandson of James II, king of England. The duke received royal orders to crush the resistance of the Parlement of Toulouse, which was following the lead of the Parlement of Paris in opposing registration of the decrees. He suspended the Parlement’s activities, and the magistrates were only reinstated in their powers in December 1763, when the crisis seemed to be passing. However, the parlementaires stepped up a gear and ordered Fitz-James’s arrest. The duke was not in fact formally arrested, and the crisis was settled in early 1764.

In the second part of the inscription, Charles-Germain’s grandson-in-law, Pierre-Antoine Tardieu, claimed that this drawing represents the Parlement of Toulouse. Tardieu was writing in the early nineteenth century, on the basis of stories possibly handed down within the family, and this attribution is unlikely, not least because the political life represented within the “Livre de Caricatures” is almost without exception based in Paris or Versailles. There is, moreover, nothing in the drawing itself to give a Languedocian context for the scene.

If it is indeed the crisis of 1763 which is represented (which is not certain), it is altogether more likely to be the Paris Parlement in evidence. The wig of the Premier President who is presiding resembles that depicted in a number of other drawings involving the Paris Parlement (e.g. 675.121). The financial character of the crisis in question appears to be represented by the coins spilling across the assembly hall, in which the jug-parlementaires are in session. Charles-Germain may have intended to suggest particular parlementaires through the attributes in individual jugs – sheet-music, flowers, rockets (of folly perhaps?), a fan in the foreground and architectural implements and what looks like a fishing rod or riding crop at the back (Rogister, 2012). Behind the “Premier President” lurks a female figure – no doubt Madame de Pompadour, who was frequently criticised for her political meddling and behind-the-scenes influence.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
hebien! touttes les cruches ne Sont pas la.
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

ou le parlement de Toulouse en 1763, decrète de prise de corps / le Duc de Fitz-James commandant en Languedoc.
Inscribed by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu, below image, bottom, in ink

Top right corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
Well! All the jugs [or idiots] are not here.
in which the parlement of Toulouse in 1763 decreed the arrest of the duke of Fitz-James, provincial governor of Languedoc
Pentimenti, in graphite, centre of page; several jugs have been repositioned and resized; the re-workings are particularly evident around the jugs gathered before the central table.


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



James H. Johnson; Musical culture; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 215-232; p. 225
John Rogister; Decoding the Livre de caricatures; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 55-66; pp. 64-5
Perrin Stein; Vases and satire; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 301-323; pp. 314, 316, fig. 14.13

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