One of my favorite caricaturists from the satiric magazine L’Assisette au Beurre (the butter dish) is little known today, even in France. However, a new monograph of his work was just published, and I got a hold of a copy in Paris. Oh yes, the artist’s name is Jossot (Gustave-Henri Jossot), and his work is as contemporary looking as his stands against the church and state are scaborous.
Jossot was born the 16 april 1866, in a middle class family and he was twenty when his firsts sketches were published in the press of Dijon (a town between Paris and Lyon). At this time his sketches’ style and humour were very close to the tastes of the day. Jossot learnt in free studios and became very fond of Brittany. While parodying symbolist masters, he created in 1894 a very strange design marrying grotesque deformation with decorative distortions. Outlines became thicker and captions shorter and very sharp so that, from 1897 to the end of his life, the drawer kept an unwavering style where fatty and nervous rings seems to choke the vivacity of flatly colours. This aesthetic is closely linked with Nabis drawings and paintings, with the main figures of Modern Style, with medieval illuminations and frescos, Japanese’s prints and french cartoonists, like Caran d’Ache, Morriss, or Louis Doës. Jossot asserted himself as one of the most famous caricaturist of his time after he published three albums titled Artistes et bourgeois (1894), Mince de trognes (1896), Femelles ! (1901) and more than eighteen issue of L’Assiette au beurre. Some fifty years later, people still remembered his huge caricatural poster for “Saupiquet’s Sardines” (printed in 1897).
The book, JOSSOT CARICATURES – De la révolte à la fuite en Orient (1866-1951), is the first contemporary appreciation of this master of the simple outline and savage pen line.