Saturday, 23 May 2009

Le Petit Journal

If you visit the Marché du Livres at Brancion or the flea market at St-Ouen you will find no shortage of dealers offering stacks of ancient yellowing and mildewed copies of Le Petit Journal, mostly priced between €1 and €3 each. This Parisian newspaper printed a Supplément Illustrée on Sundays featuring full page colour illustrations, often based on the week’s most sensational news story. The graphic style employed by the illustrators was similar to the Illustrated London News but the paper stock was vastly inferior. It was the practice of the day for the picture editor to commission the services of an illustrator to produce a colour transcription of a blotchy and indistinct photograph. These two examples give a flavour of the thing. Heartless criminals and dangerous wild animals captured at gunpoint were a staple ingredient along with disasters, natural or man-made. In terms of figure drawing skill they leave a lot to be desired but therein resides much of their charm by presenting moments of great drama in the form of deep-frozen tableau.

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