George Sand (née Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, 1804 – 1876) was one of the most celebrated French authors of her time and remains to this day a central figure in French literary history. She produced throughout her lifetime an extraordinarily broad body of literary works, including short stories, novels, periodicals, newspaper articles, political commentaries, and even plays. One of her most well-known works, and her first novel published under her male pseudonym, was Indiana, which recounts the rise and fall of a young bourgeoise trapped in a loveless marriage, while also touching on the political climate of the age. Indiana was remarkably successful and popular when it was published and catapulted Sand to fame as she became a full-time writer who supported her family and lifestyle purely from sales of her works. The success of Indiana and many other of her works prompted a re-release of her body of works in nine volumes, titled Les Œuvres illustrées de George Sand. The volume studied in this thesis contains seventy-seven engraved illustrations of various scenes from each text. The engravings were produced by the very famous French artist and illustrator Tony Johannot with the help of Sand’s own son, Maurice Sand. Johannot was very well-known during his career and produced engravings for the biggest names in European literature such as Molière, Lord Byron, Cervantes, Goethe, Balzac, and others, including Sand.
In these books, illustrations were distributed throughout the text so the reader could visualize many of the storyline’s scenes. The authors themselves, however, did not oversee or produce these images, so it was at the discretion of the illustrator as to how each character, setting, facial expression, motif, etc. would be drawn. Sand was well-known for being avant-garde, progressive, independent, and, notably, female. Her opinions understandably clashed with many of the stereotypical views of the 19th century on many topics, particularly when it came to the treatment of women. By contrast, Johannot was a very well-respected and successful male artist with solid connections with influential publishers, who catered to a specific audience of well-off and well-educated buyers. The buyers of his works, particularly of his illustrated texts, were often parents of the upper middle class who wanted books to be used as gifts providing not only entertainment but also instruction and moral life lessons to their children. Johannot’s interpretations of Sand’s Indiana, which was considered scandalous and controversial upon its release, could therefore shift some of the most controversial aspects of the novel from what Sand originally intended. There are many reasons as to why Johannot might make certain interpretations of the text. He likely wanted to maintain his status as a successful author and please his audience, typically middle and upper middle-class, wealthy, and bourgeois literate patrons who educated themselves and their children by exposing themselves to books and works of art, as was traditional at the time. Additionally, his fundamental personal opinions as a successful business man might differ from Sand’s opinions as a female author, as traditional gendered roles and stereotypes often prevented the financial and societal independence of women.
This thesis will compare Johannot’s images created for Indiana with Sand’s original French text. In doing so, the reader can gain an understanding of how social status and personal interpretations can affect the way an artist represents a scene. Many of Johannot’s images agree with Sand, while others do not; some of the main similarities and differences will be analyzed to understand how and why such artistic differences occur.