Cartoonist who drew face of France remembered

16th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) - Tributes were paid in France Monday to Jacques Faizant, the veteran cartoonist whose drawings — often featuring a bonneted Marianne and a bemused cat — appeared on the front page of the conservative daily Le Figaro for nearly half a century.

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) - Tributes were paid in France Monday to Jacques Faizant, the veteran cartoonist whose drawings — often featuring a bonneted Marianne and a bemused cat — appeared on the front page of the conservative daily Le Figaro for nearly half a century.

President Jacques Chirac described Faizant, who died on Saturday at the age of 87, as "a dear friend ... and an enlightened and incisive observer of political life under the Fifth Republic".

"His death leaves a great void in the hearts of all those who over the years loyally kept their daily rendezvous with his cartoons," the president said in a statement.

Monday's issue of Le Figaro, which first published a cartoon by Faizant in 1959, contained a page of drawings marking his death by fellow cartoonists, as well as famous examples of his work and a leading article.

A staunch right-winger, Faizant became famous for his reverential depictions of President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s. When de Gaulle died in 1970, his cartoon showed Marianne — the female symbol of France — weeping over the fallen truck of a massive tree.

In a 1967 drawing the president is seen leaving a press conference muttering to himself: "What would I do if I didn't have me?"

Faizant went on to portray all of de Gaulle's four successors, with Chirac making his first appearance in the mid-1970s as a fresh-faced young prime minister.

Many of the cartoons featured two spindly-legged old ladies, a gentleman with a Napoleon III beard and a black cat — symbols of the bourgeoisie who viewed changes in French society with a sense of ironic surprise. Marianne was often called on to register the author's own disapproval.

Faizant drew more than 30,000 pictures for Le Figaro, but from the 1990s management increasingly saw him as an old-fashioned figure who was holding back the newspaper's modernisation and deterring younger readers.

In 1999 he was relegated to the inside pages, and last October a major relaunch of the newspaper was the occasion for him to retire definitively.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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