Friday, July 14, 2017

Ronald Searle: The Fourth Republic at the Guillotine

In the May 21, 1958 issue of Punch, Ronald Searle revisits the imagery of the French Revolution in the wake of the Algiers putsch. The coup attempt of May 13 had led to the widespread concern that France lacked the resolve to put down the Algerian Revolution. Many felt a pullout from Algeria would signal a loss of French honor, another debacle comparable to that of Indochina in 1954. Hence the French Fourth Republic is depicted by Searle decapitating herself at the guillotine. It's a remarkably somber image for a Punch cartoon

Ronald Searle, Punch, May 21, 1958

May 17, 2018 Update:  This drawing appears on page 126 of Russell Davies's biography Ronald Searle (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990) along with some additional information about it.

Note:  All this is my unusual way of wishing everyone a Happy Bastille Day. In that spirit, Ronald Searle's grotesquely brilliant illustrations celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution may be seen on the Ronald Searle Tribute blog here.

At this writing, the page from Punch is available on eBay for $9.99 plus $6.01 shipping.

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