Pleasures at barriers

Pleasures at barriers

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Title: Clichy barrier.

Creation date : 1839

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 35 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Photolithography Decaux, Ch., And Aubert et Cie, printers in Paris

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Picture reference: 09-569404 / 50.9.97C

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Publication date: July 2012

Professor of contemporary history IUFM and Claude Bernard Lyon University 1.Head of University for all, Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne.

Historical context

Paris of the Barriers

In the first third of the XIXe century, Paris grew quickly: 547,000 inhabitants in 1801, the million was reached in 1841 (936,000 inhabitants, 1,060,000 with the small suburbs). This is Paris Intramural, still locked in its 18th century barrierse century, say "wall of the General Farmers". The Directory re-established them by the law of 26 Germinal year V; the Consulate confirms them by the law of April 24, 1806. From now on, the coffers still pierced by the State and the City are filled with these indirect contributions which weigh on all consumer products (drinks and liquids, edibles, fuels, fodder and materials).

The "wall walling Paris makes Paris murmur", it was said in the 18th century.e century, and we know that the Revolution began with the sacking of several granting offices. Throughout this first XIXe century, shaken by repeated social and economic crises and recurring political instability, the barrier can only be a sensitive place. Thus, to the north-west of Paris, in the direction of Clichy-la-Garenne, a barrier 1,400 meters long rises between forts Philippe and Clichy, through a gate known as the “barrier of Fructidor”. , large Greek building with two peristyles of six columns each. This place experienced a famous episode of resistance to the advance of the anti-Napoleonic allies: General Moncey's national guard stood firm against the Russian contingent in March 1814. Under Louis-Philippe, a whole "festive" and untaxed activity developed in the region. - beyond the barrier: drinking establishments, wine merchants, grocery stores and other "guinguettes" offer their customers an atmosphere rich in collective emotions - speeches, dances, songs, excess alcohol - in the open air, in full freedom, when it's not fully licensed.

Image Analysis

Freedom and license

The inscription "Release from debt prison to freedom. How pretty life is! Says it all. The man at the center of the composition has therefore just been released from the prison into which his creditors have brought him. This is undoubtedly the annex to the Sainte-Pélagie prison, overcrowded with political prisoners, located at 70 rue de Clichy. Well dressed, he celebrates his release in good company. It could be a new form of the popular character of Robert Macaire, a rascal who has gander. On the other side of the symbolic barrier, green nature symbolizes rediscovered freedom.

Free life is "pretty" because it is celebration. All the pleasures are represented in the image: gambling (with the cards), drinking (flutes and bottles of champagne), smoking (the man holds a cigar, a woman has a cigarette on her lips), friendship or at least the companionship (the man in the top hat), sex with these two "grisettes", linens (the laundry bag is on the ground) who indulge in easy pleasures, who let themselves be intoxicated in all meaning.


The surrounding disorder - an overturned chair, a low-cut bottle, a coat on the floor, a crumpled tablecloth - no doubt indicates that once the barrier is passed, one can cross the bounds of decorum and that license comes close to freedom. Perhaps it also means that the people claim happiness, the good life, refusing to be locked up and taxed in their products of pleasure. Democracy and brotherhood begin beyond granting. Many designers of the time, like Daumier, Gavarni or Bertall, claimed them not with horn and scream, but with palette and brushes. Since 1835 and the imposition of censorship, the social question can no longer be asked; it therefore reappears in the satire of manners. Moreover, in 1848, the revolution will be born out of a new demand for equality and freedom.

  • tobacco
  • suburbs
  • Paris
  • farmers general wall
  • July Monarchy
  • granting
  • tax


ALLARD, Paul, "Satire des mœurs et critique sociale dans la caricature française de 1835 à 1848, in P. Régnier (ed.), La caricature entre République et censure. The satirical image in France from 1830 to 1880: a speech by resistance ?, Lyon, Presses Universitaires (PUL), 1996, p.171-181.JARDIN, André, TUDESQ, André-Jean, la France des notables, 1815-1848, t.1: general development, t.2: the life of the nation, Paris, le Seuil, Points Histoire collection, 1973 The real Parisian driver (Richard, 1828 edition) ROBERT, Hervé, La monarchie de Juillet, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France (PUF), Que coll. do I know?, 2000.

To cite this article

Didier NOURRISSON, "Pleasures at the barriers"

Video: Pleasure Activism: whats somatics got to do with it?


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