Sheet: 60.6 x 46.5 cm (23 7/8 x 18 5/16 in.); Image: 60.6 x 46.5 cm (23 7/8 x 18 5/16 in.)
Bequest of John Bonebrake 2012.271
Catalogue raisonné: Cate and Gill 45
Nineteenth-century French lithographs, including Steinlen’s charged political images, offer wide-ranging documentation of the life of the times. In 1881 France passed a law granting freedom of the press, resulting in numerous magazines of humor and social criticism. Steinlen, an advocate for the poor, the downtrodden, and the working classes, contributed artwork to journals linked to the leftest movement, such as the anarchist publication La feuille (The Newspaper), in which Ten Assassinations for a Penny was reproduced.
Steinlen’s illustrations for La feuille comment satirically on the articles written by Zo d’Axa, the editor-in-chief. A sense of gloom and violence that parallels the pessimism of the writing permeates the somber images. Marked by strong contrasts of black and white, Ten Assassinations for a Penny has an unsettling, even frightening quality intended to shock the reader into acknowledging the deep-seated problems in French society.
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