Paris: Au Bureau du Charivari, Maison Martinet, 1848. Item #04619
Charles-Édourd de Beaumont's
Au Bal Masqué - At the Masked Ball
BEAUMONT, Charles-Édouard de. Au Bal Masqué. [At the Masked Ball] Album par Beaumont. Paris: Au Bureau du Charivari, Maison Martinet, .
[First Series]. Quarto (13 1/4 x 10 inches; 336 x 254 mm.). Pictorial lithograph title-page and thirty superb lithograph plates. Some light foxing (mainly marginal) to a few plates, otherwise fine.
Later violet cloth over boards, spine lettered in gilt. Publisher's pictorial yellow wrappers bound in.
This exceptionally rare album of lithographs echoes that of Gavarni who dedicated works of the same theme at the same time. Mr. Descamps-Scrive who had a colored copy of the same thirty prints prints of this album indicated that the date was "towards 1860" (catalog Descamps-Scrive, second part).
OCLC locates just two complete copies in libraries and institutions worldwide, both at The Morgan Library & Museum (NY, USA), one of which appears to be partially colored.
Charles-Édouard de Beaumont (1819-1888) was one of the great caricaturists and lithographers that illustrated the beautiful pages of Charivari and other fashionable image journals. He produced all the illustrations for the picturesque Revue, Le Diable Amoureux (The Devil in Love) and many of the illustrations for the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris. Often criticized for drawing too much inspiration from Paul Gavarni, he published between 1228 and 1273 lithographs in the years 1842 to 1866. He was often criticized for drawing too much inspiration from Paul Gavarni. In 1879 he co-founded the Societe d'Aquarellistes Francais in 1879, where he exhibited several watercolors
Masquerades were popular imagery in France at this time, which suggests that de Beaumont might have implied that the latent qualities of the masquerade, such as anonymity, deceit, promiscuity and superficiality, equally exist in more everyday settings. Additionally, because masked balls were contexts that permitted forms of interaction and intimacy otherwise prohibited, they can be regarded as occasions where gender and sexual norms could be transgressed.
De Beaumont’s satirical images of gender relations are not always as progressive as this description of the series might suggest. In 1848, after Au Bal Masqué, de Beaumont stopped depicting women in acceptable female roles and instead reconnected them to the role of prostitute. He would also reverse their gender roles to support an antifeminist backlash prompted by a conservative political climate. Out of this same school of thought, de Beaumont authored a book titled The Sword and Womankind that attributes a range of historical calamities to the deeds of wayward women. For example, depictions of women castrating men and enacting other violent acts spread from the belief that women were responsible for the failure of the 1848 revolution. While the prints from Au Bal Masqué may not depict these same sentiments, it satirizes diversions from gender norms while also depicting women outside of the domestic sphere, behaving contrary to traditional social expectations.