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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.31 'La Lune Rousse', Gill cartoon

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A drawing of Darwin by André Gill borrows a satirical trope found in The Hornet, Fun and Punch, showing him with a large caricatured head joined to the body of an ape. However, La Lune Rousse is distinctively French in emphasising the clash between Darwinism and the doctrines of the Catholic church. Gill imagines a ‘magnificent’ animal display in the circus ring of the Paris Hippodrome, where Darwin, to the amazement of a watching clown, becomes a star performer; he leaps energetically through a paper hoop labelled ‘Credulité’ and is about to smash through another, labelled ‘Superstitions – Erreurs – Ignorance’. The monkey ringmaster holding up the hoops is Emile Littré, a positivist and a freethinking materialist philosopher, whose ideas were often associated with Darwin’s. As Louis de Gramont’s article accompanying the print mentions, Littré was a thorn in the side of the Bishop of Orléans, Monsignor Félix Dupanloup, who resigned from the Académie francaise when Littré was elected a member. Louis de Gramont ends his account of Darwin’s life and work in La Lune Rousse by claiming that, thanks to him, false science and superstition would no longer poison the minds of future generations: ‘Hip! Hurrah! Darwin for ever!’ 

André Gill was the pseudonym of Louis-Alexandre Gosset de Guînes, the offspring of a titled father. His choice of the name ‘Gill’ was intended as a tribute to the caricaturist James Gillray, whom he emulates here in the striking physiognomic accuracy of the caricatures, the vitality of the draughtsmanship, and the humour of the symbolism. Gill also acted as editor of La Lune Rousse

  • physical location Darwin archive, Cambridge University Library 

  • accession or collection number DAR 141.9 and DAR 226.2.21 

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image André Gill; signed ‘And. Gill’ at bottom left 

  • date of creation August 1878 

  • computer-readable date 1878-01-01 to 1878-08-17 

  • medium and material lithography, partly coloured; signed by the lithographers at lower right, ‘Yves & Barret sc.’ 

  • references and bibliography La Lune Rousse, 2:89 (18 August 1878), pp. 1-2. Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place: vol. II of a Biography (London: Jonathan Cape, 2002), p. 379. Gowan Dawson, Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 72. Janet Browne, ‘Darwin in caricature: a study in the popularization and dissemination of evolutionary theory’, in Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer (eds), The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture (Hanover NH: Dartmouth College Press and University Press of New England, 2009), pp. 32-3. 


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