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Dreyfus Affair

Zola dans la Mé...lasse!

An anti-Dreyfus articulated caricature printed on thin cardboard, depicting a soldier in red pants and cap plunging the writer Émile Zola into a barrel bearing the word "Vidange", with a brad fastener used to move the soldier's arm (and thereby the figure of Zola) up and down into the barrel. Extremely small tears around brad fastener and barrel opening, minor wear. Small 8vo., 12 x 17-1/2 cm. Loose as issued. Paris (Louis Hayard) n.d. (circa 1898).

The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906, with the pro-Army primarily Catholic "anti-Dreyfusards" on one side and the pro-republican Dreyfusards on the other. It remains today one of the most notable examples of wrongful conviction, with notable influence coming from the press and public opinion. In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. In 1896, evidence came to light identifying a different French Army officer, Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterházy, as the true culprit. High-ranking officers suppressed the evidence, and Esterházy was acquitted. Dreyfus was instead accused of additional charges based on falsified documents. Word of the cover-up spread, mainly owing to Zola's story in L'Aurore, and activists subsequently put pressure on the government to reopen the case. Finally, in 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army.
Ephemeral paper toys and items such as this one were distributed to help influence public opinion during the time of the Dreyfus Affair and helped contributed to the social and political divide in France at the time. Incredibly scarce; as of March 2020, WorldCat locates a single holding of this articulated caricature worldwide.

Book ID: 50670

Price: $350.00