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The Model Republic, or Cato Potts in Paris

According to Stephan Oettermann, the word "panorama" was created in the late 18th century to signify a new type of painting in the round, but it didn't take long for most to assume that the word was ancient and denoted a circular vista of a landscape or cityscape and connoted a survey or an overview of a specific area of knowledge. Adding "-orama" to any noun became a persistent fad. In Balzac's Le père Goriot, for example, one of the boarders at la Maison Vauquer announces at the dinner table: "Here comes a famous souporama," leading to the jest by another boarder in which he describes the morning's fog as "Goriorama."

Limited runs of printed panoramas were a publishing trend for a niche market of wealthy patrons in 19th-century Europe. Subjects included coronations and other special events, as well as views of rivers, parks, and neighborhoods. Within the broad definition of a panorama-type book is Watts Philips' The Model Republic or Cato Potts in Paris. Published in 1848, the graphic novella follows a disenchanted Englishman to revolutionary Paris. The pages are continuous horizontally and folded, accordion style. The hand-colored images dominant each page; when the pages are outstretched, a narrative in pictures can be seen in one view.

In 1848 Europe experienced a series of republican revolts against monarchies, all of which--save the revolution in France-- ended quickly in failure and disillusionment. The turmoil in Great Britain was small: a Chartist demonstration and republican agitation in Ireland, but in France the Second Republic was formed, leading to universal suffrage for men. The Second Republic did not, however, survive the coup d'etat against the assembly on behalf of Prince Louis-Napoléon on 2 December 1851. Watts Philips' cautionary tale mocks France's claims of liberty, equality, and fraternity and focuses on the economic failures of the Republic.

For a closer look at the book, request The Model Republic [call no: PR5175.P3 M6] in the reading room of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

". . . a Republic is proclaimed in France . . ."

Two-page opening


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