Artworks: cartoons & caricatures: 'Musée des Horreurs' collection
The Musée des Horreurs is a series of 51 crude, grotesque anti-Semitic posters published in the wake of the Dreyfus trial in France. The caricatures included prominent French Jews, including members of the Rothschild family, Alfred Dreyfus, politicians involved in the Dreyfus Affair, ministers and financiers involved in the Panama Canal scandal and French politicians.
The Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. The affair has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francophone world, and it remains one of the most notable examples of miscarriage of justice and antisemitism, embittering French politics and encouraging radicalisation. The role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the conflict. The scandal began in December 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason. Dreyfus was a 35-year-old Alsatian French artillery officer of Jewish descent. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, and was imprisoned in Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years. In 1896, evidence came to light (primarily through an investigation instigated by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage) which identified the real culprit as a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. When high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army laid additional charges against Dreyfus, based on forged documents. Subsequently, Émile Zola's open letter J'Accuse…!, stoked a growing movement of support for Dreyfus, putting pressure on the government to reopen the case. In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between the 'Dreyfusards', a group of left-wing intellectuals and anti-military, and the 'Anti-Dreyfusards', a group of nationalistic, anti-Semitic conservatives. The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was pardoned and released. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935.
Correspondence between the Rothschild brothers in Paris and their cousins in London illustrates how they followed the affair from its very beginning, when Dreyfus was arrested. See Correspondence from de Rothschild Frères (RAL XI/101/0-104) and Private Letters to the Paris House (RAL XI/130A/0-8).
Private Rothschild family correspondence commenting on the Dreyfus Affair will be found in Named collections: the Lafite Papers I: OC 262, letters to Charlotte, Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild (1825-1899) and OE 312, correspondence with Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905).
Two antisemitic pamphlets specifically against the Rothschild family and business published during 'the Dreyfus Affair', c.1895 will be found in 000/2914: La Mainmorte Juive (Ouvre National de Propagande Antijuive) (Masson, Paris) and Les Contemporains, No.173, 2 February 1896, 'Rothschild'.
Cartoons & caricatures: 'Musée des Horreurs' lithographs [The Dreyfus Affair], 1899-1900
000/922, 1 box (50 items)
Set of fifty hand-coloured lithographs forming the series Musée des Horreurs (Museum of Horrors), published in France by 'Victor Lenepveu', 1899-1900.
The Musée des Horreurs is a series of 51 crude, grotesque anti-Semitic posters published in the wake of the Dreyfus trial in France. The people lambasted by the caricaturist 'Lenepveu' include prominent French Jews, including members of the Rothschild family, Alfred Dreyfus, politicians involved in the Dreyfus Affair, ministers and financiers involved in the Panama Canal scandal and French politicians. The creator of the Musée des Horreurs is not known, 'Victor Lenepveu' being a pseudonym. Eight of the poster-sized lithographs feature members of the Rothschild family:
- No.2: N'a qu'un oeil. Caricature of Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905) as an octopus with an eye patch, 1899
- No.42: Nathan Mayer ou l’origine des milliards. Caricature of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) as a dog scavenging gold pieces on the battlefield of Waterloo, 1900
- No.43: 'Karl Mayer'. Caricature of Carl Mayer von Rothschild (1788-1855) as a dog taking contraband goods across the French-German border, 1900
- No.44: 'Le baron James'. Caricature of James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) as a dog hoarding stacks of money, 1900
- No 45: 'Le baron Alphonse'. Caricature of Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905) as a creature with an eyepatch clawing gold coins from a chest, 1900
- No.46: 'Léonora'. Caricature of Leonora, Baroness Alphonse de Rothschild (1837-1911) as an old goat with a locket around her neck, 1900
- No.47: 'Henri'. Caricature of Henri de Rothschild (1872-1947) as a pig driving a car, 1900
- No.48: 'Charlotte Mayer'. Caricature of Charlotte, Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild (1825-1899) as an old monkey wearing jewellery, 1900
Duke University has digitised its collection of Musée des Horreurs posters, they can be viewed here »