Three months prior to the July Revolution, Philipon drew and published a caricature of Charles X. Titled “Un Jesuite,” it portrayed the king wearing a clerical cap and an exaggeration of his drooping lip. The censors condemned La Silhouette, and demanded to know who was responsible for the drawing. Benjamin-Louis Bellet, a political pamphleteer who worked with Philipon, took the blame. He was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 1,000 Francs.
In the coming months, caricature and political satire would only increase in popularity in France, and by the July Revolution, Philipon was one of the anti-establishment’s most prolific illustrators. He abhorred the government’s hypocrisy in verbally defending free speech while imprisoning its outspoken critics, and despite their relative unpopularity among French citizens, censorship trials continued to threaten the future of his profession.
The Pear Portraits
Thrice Philipon was convicted of publishing improper political caricatures, and the courts sentenced him to a total of 13 months in prison and issued fines reaching up to to 10,000 Francs. It became clear that the government was attempting to financially bury Philipon and his magazine, but if anything, they only contributed to their popularity.
The next time he was summoned to court, Philipon was ready for them. When charged with portraying the king in a political drawing, Philipon contended that the law was absurd because anything could be considered a likeness of the king, if one tried hard enough to make the connection. To illustrate his point, he then drew a series of sketches that portrayed the kind metamorphosing into a giant pear.