The Celebrated Gargantua
Artist/maker unknown, French. Published by Pellerin, Imprimeur-Libraire, Épinal, France, active 19th century.
In 1546, François Rabelais (1483-1553) began writing The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, a series of satirical novels inspired by early French folklore that recounted the extraordinary deeds of a giant named Gargantua. The banquet scene in this print represents a nineteenth-century adaptation of this fable. Once a personification of the State devouring individuals' property, Gargantua serves here instead as a humorous warning against gluttony. At the age of three, he would eat four bulls, fifty sheep, and three hundred partridges for dinner alone. As Gargantua grew up, his appetite swelled to fatal proportions, until one day he died of indigestion.