Laughing at Law Codes: A French Tradition – Introduction

December 3, 2012

Joseph Hémard was the leader in adding humorous illustrations to French law codes. However, he was not the only one, or even the first. The tradition began with the French Revolution and continues to the present. The Lillian Goldman Law Library has a number of examples in its Rare Book Collection. In some of them, the legal text has been converted into verse. Many others follow Hémard’s lead in juxtaposing hilarious visual commentary with the dry-as-dust legal text.

This exhibit is on display in conjunction with the Rare Book Collection’s main exhibit for Fall 2012, “’And then I drew for books’: The Comic Art of Joseph Hémard.”

Code de la route: texte officiel et complet / illustrations en couleurs de Dubout (Paris: Maurice Gonon, 1956). Acquired with the Gary and Brian Bookman Literature and Arts Fund.

“Laughing at Law Codes: A French Tradition,” curated by Mike Widener, is on display through Dec. 20, 2012, in Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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