Jean-Jacques Grandville was one of the most famous French caricaturists of the 19th century. He was born in in 1803 into a family of actors and musicians and established himself in Paris in 1825 as a ferocious political cartoonist and caricaturist. He quickly gained renown for his original and innovating drawings that combine caricature and fantasy universes. He fought on the barricades during the revolution of 1830 which dethroned Charles X, the last Bourban king of the main line. During this period his cartoons appeared in Le Charivari and Le Caricature two of the most famous satirical journals of the time. In 1835 these journals were suppressed by the government of Louis-Philippe and Grandville was forced to find another way of making a living. He chose book illustration and it is in this sphere that his fame now rests.
Scènes de la Vie Privée et Publique des Animaux or Public and Private Lives of the Animals is a collection of novellas, articles and satirical stories published between 1840 and 1842 in two illustrated volumes, edited by Hetzel with the collaboration of famous writers such as P.J. Stahl, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Nodier, George Sand, Émile de La Bédollière, Jules Janin and Paul de Musset. Each text is illustrated with wood engravings designed by Grandville who makes use of the illustrated beast-fable tradition and applies his well-honed caricaturist’s gift to the combination of human and animal characteristics. The combined anthropomorphic elements are so finely balanced that the animal disguise becomes a forceful expression of human foibles.