Bonjour, Monsieur Hermann-Paul

A few months back, I wrote about the German designer and caricaturist Bruno Paul. This week please meet René Georges Hermann-Paul, a brilliant caricaturist for the French journal L’Assiette au Beurre.

Monsieur Hermann-Paul was born in Paris on December 27, 1864, the son of a wealthy doctor whose family origins were in the South of France. During the Belle Époque, Hermann-Paul was in a circle of Paris artists that included Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Collectively they created some of the finest posters of the decade.

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, a large number of literary journals were published in France. Journals suchs as Le Rire, Le Courier Français and Le Cri de Paris were alive with stunning polemical illustration. Impressionist and Nabis artist, including Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Lautrec and Hermann-Paul were featured in contemporary journals.

Hermann-Paul contributed to Le Rire, Le Sourire, and Le Escarmouche, and appeared on covers and interiors. Like Bruno Paul, his work was style noted by simplification of form. Yet his expressive imagery always packed a journalistic wallop.

The Online Hermann-Paul Project notes:

“It was in the “Journaux Humoristiques” that Hermann-Paul seemed to find his voice. His work is noted for its satiric characterizations of the foibles of French society. He poked holes in the typical aspirations of middle class families. The bourgeoisie received much of his mockery but he lampooned all strata of Parisian society. Rich and old, powerful and powerless were at some point skewered by him. Artists also received playful mockery.”

Hermann-Paul was also a vociferous advocate of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the French/Jewish military officer accused and convicted unfairly of treason and sent to Devil’s Island. Hermann-Paul’s cartoons lampooned the military tribunal and its procedural flaws, and was a soldier in cultural war that held the public’s attention for years. And before it was over exposed the rampant anti-semitism in France.

He died in 1940 died in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.


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