Title: The Tree of Love.
Author : ANONYMOUS (-)
Dimensions: Height 32.2 - Width 41.8
Technique and other indications: wood stencil colored on laid paper; Epinal at Pellerin
Storage location: MuCEM website
Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web
Picture reference: 02CE10154 / 79.82.15 C
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi
Publication date: September 2004
19th century Francee century saw a strongly marked sexual division of tasks, roles and spaces. Like the "Panties Dispute" and some vignettes from the "Upside Down World", the theme of the Love Tree is a satirical representation of the relationship between the sexes.
In his History of patriotic earthenware under the Revolution, Champfleury notes that the motif of the Tree of Love is very popular in both printmaking and earthenware. The men are perched on the branches of a tree at the top of which is Love, the women try to bring them down by the most varied means. They sometimes appeal to seduction: "Suzon pulls her husband by the sleeve: sweet, sweet Jacquot ..." 18th century earthenwaree century, whose figures are accompanied by short rhyming phrases, regularly allude to gifts. The Nevers salad bowls are marked "D’agréable manner - Received this snuff box" or "The charming Isabeau - presents him with a beautiful hat". In most cases, however, seduction is not enough. XIX printse century favor more direct methods: one woman uses a ladder to try to catch a "warrior covered in glory", another holds a pole in her hand. The most radical way is still to saw the trunk of the tree: two women use a master key for this purpose  while a third prepares to pull on a rope to bring the whole thing down. The iconographic motif, formally close to the Tree of Life - and the Cocagne pole in terms of content - appears in the engraving in the 16th and 17th centuries ("L’arbre au beau fruict"). But then it is the women who are in the tree and the men who try to bring them down (with a lute or with a bow ...); the inversion seems to be generalized in the 18th centurye century.
For Duchartre and Saulnier (1944), "The Tree of Love means that husbands are hard to find birds, and a mockery of girls looking for husbands". At the same time, the image gives women the initiative to conquer love. Presenting the relationship between men and women in this way at the start of the 19th century was indeed a comic reversal of common standards, but in no way a subversion; as in the case of the “Upside down world”, the inversion of relations is established on the one hand within a stable relational structure that there is no question of perverting or contesting on the background, and, on the other hand, in a humorous way that keeps any interpretation in terms of claims at bay.
- popular imagery
Philippe ARIES and Georges DUBY (dir.)History of privacy, volume III " From the Revolution to the Great War »(Volume edited by Michelle Perrot) Paris, Seuil, 1987ChampfleuryHistory of patriotic earthenware under the RevolutionParis, E. Dentu, 1867Paul-Louis DUCHARTRE and René SAULNIERParisian ImageryParis, Gründ, 1944 Martine SEGALEN Husband and wife in peasant society Paris, Flammarion 1980
1. Large, wide-bladed, rimless saw for wood and soft stones.
To cite this article
Frédéric MAGUET, "The Tree of Love"