The Swiss-born and French-naturalised painter and caricaturist Charles-Joseph Traviès de Villers grew up in Wülflingen, near Zürich, but spent most of his life in Paris. A student of François-Joseph Heim and the École des Beaux-arts, Traviès began his career as a genre painter, making his debut at the Salon de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1823.

He never had any great success in this field, and it was in the field of caricature that he made his name. He contributed to the newspapers La Caricature and Le Charivari, directed by Charles Philipon. In 1832 he created his character Mayeux or Mahieux, a hunchback who embodies all the faults of the bourgeoisie. All the great Parisian caricaturists of the period took up the Mayeux character, including Daumier, Grandville, Robillard and Delaporte. Honoré de Balzac wrote two articles under the pseudonym – M Mahieux au bal de l’Opéra and M Mahieux en société.

The press law of 9 September 1835 outlawed political caricature, and Traviès, like many of his colleagues, turned to drawing character sketches and book illustration.

We are very grateful to our friend Gérard Coron for recommending this artist.

Example illustration