Lovers of the game of bowls playing on the Champs Elysees in 1817.

Jeu de Boule. Gravure 1817.


Jeu de Boule. Gravure 1817.


Thiébaut. Lovers of the game of bowls playing on the Champs Elysees. Paris, Basset, [1817]. Hand colored lithography (230 x 330 mm).                                            

Cartoon to be published in the collection entitled “Caricatures françaises “, by Basset, Martinet and Christmas, between 1806 and 1817.

The “Jeu de Boules” or “Jeu National” was born in the 18th century near Lyon, hence its nickname “boule yonnaise”. At that time the game was very popular, to the point that the Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedia devotes a chapter in which it shows the rules. B. Durand, in “le joueur de boules”, in les Français peints par eux-mêmes, published in 1841, talks about these ball fields on the Champs-Élyséess, now gone, these “expressly prepared land”, as we still saw a few, thirty years ago, along the right side of the Champs-Élysées, where the Beaujon district stands”. Charles Van-Tenac, ten years later, evokes the game of cochonnet, preferred in Paris, while the game of big balls is usually played in the province : “The emeritus amateurs come together, in the hot season and during the days of beautiful frosts, on the Boulevard d’Enfer, behind the Grande-Chaumière, on the Observatory’s esplanade, on the Champs-Élysées, etc. ” (Académie des jeux: contenant l’historique, la marche, les règles, conventions et maximes des jeux en usage dans les cercles et dans les salons ; avec un abrégé du calcul des probabilités et des applications aux jeux de hasard, 1851.)

Our two bowls players, dressed in muscadins fashion, a bit shaggy and hairless, all to their game, contrast singularly with the elegant bourgeois family, in the latest fashion, who contemplates them, stunned.

Jeu de Boule. Gravure 1817.The serene smile of the child, with eyes closed, and the dog that lifts his paw on the game give a social and political sense to the whole; the time of the Revolution and the Empire is over, a new society was born, that of the Restoration, moving towards a bright future, as the couple of walkers in the background seems to indicate. Unless the child’s smile is that of the art collector in front of this caricature…

Bibliographie de la France, vol. VI, 15 February 1817, p. 90, n° 121.

Corner stains due to old glue points on the back, a pinhole in the right corner at the top; short trimmed pit’s top.


Jeu de Boule. Champs-Elysées. 1817.

350 €