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Gill (pseudonym of André Gosset de Guines)
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During the late 1860s, as the Second Empire of Emperor Napoleon III (1803-1873) declined, a French artist emerged who created caricatures of leading politicians, actors, writers, and artists that were the talk of Paris. André Gill was a master of the portrait-charge, a form of caricature that was introduced by artists in the journal Le Charivari in the 1830s. Portrait-charge exaggerates salient facial features, especially by enlarging the nose and brow, and sets a large head on a diminutive body to bring out the personality of the subject. Gill’s images vary in subject and mood from the amusing but insightful depiction of actors and public figures to more bitter, sardonic images concerned with the aftermath of the French defeat in the Franco Prussian War. Louis-Alexandre Gosset de Guines (who added de Guines to his name because he believed he was the illegitimate son of the Comte de Guines), took the pseudonym André Gill because of his admiration for the English caricaturist, James Gillray (1757-1815). The caricaturist and photographer Nadar (pseudonym of Gaspard Félix Tournachon, 1820-1910) befriended the teenage Gill and introduced him to the influential lithographer, caricaturist, publisher and founder of Le Charivari, Charles Philipon (1806-1862), who published Gill’s caricatures in Le Journal Amusant. Subsequently Gill’s work appeared in large hand-colored, lithographic portraits printed in a weekly four-sheet newspaper, La Lune. He established his reputation with the portrait series “Man of the Day” in La Lune. His subjects became household names through these images, and to appear in La Lune was regarded as a distinction. Not all those satirized were pleased. Emperor Napoleon III (1803-1873) repeatedly appeared as Rocambole, the disreputable ruffian-hero of Les Exploits de Rocambole (1859), an enormously popular twenty-two volume series of novels by Ponson du Terrail. Despite the relative relaxation of censorship during the “Liberal Empire”, La Lune was suppressed in January 1868. A few weeks later L’Eclipse began publication, with the signature full Man-in-the-Moon masthead image of La Lune almost completely obscured by a leering penumbra—and Gill’s trenchant images continued to appear. Although he participated in the Paris Commune of 1871, Gill was not forced into exile and was able to stay in Paris. He was also a painter, exhibiting works at the Salons from 1875 to 1882, and illustrated works by Emile Zola (1840-1902) and others. He continued to work into the early 1880s, but he died insane on May 1, 1885, having suffered the same fate as his namesake Gillray. (CNS 2006, rev. TNB 3/2010) Selected bibliography: Feaver, William, et al. Edited by Ann Gould. Masters of Caricature. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.