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Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century$
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Rebecca Anne Barr, Sylvie Kleiman-Lafton, and Sophie Vasset

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526127051

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526127051.001.0001

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Iconography of the belly: eighteenth-century satirical prints

Iconography of the belly: eighteenth-century satirical prints

(p.273) 13 Iconography of the belly: eighteenth-century satirical prints
Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century

Barbara Stentz

Manchester University Press

This chapter analyses metaphorical and formal aspects of satirical representations of bodily functions related to digestion and evacuation (indigestions, winds, belches, enemas, etc.) and their political overtones in graphic satire. Beyond the burlesque tradition, a large belly that attracts the eye can be evocative of the social and political tensions of the time. A traditional sign of opulence, power and wealth, the oversized belly signals the opposition and unbalanced relations between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless. In England, caricatures often portrayed greedy, potbellied physicians, while in France the revolutionary caricaturists used the belly as the symbol of the degeneration and of the moral and physical slackening of some of their adversaries. This iconography from the early times of the revolution shows a reversal after a while, as protruding bellies became unacceptable and depreciated and had to be corrected by radical treatments.

Keywords:   caricature, belly, revolutionary France, political satire, religious satire, clerics

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