Attaque du tigre
An illustrator and set designer, Louis Boulanger most famously designed scenes for Victor Hugo’s novels and plays. He gained a reputation early in his career for his vigorous scenes of animals, such as this lithograph of a tiger attacking a horseman. The animal, leaping at its adversary, digs its claws and teeth into the rear of the horse, which struggles to retaliate by biting the tiger’s shoulder. The rider, bearing a turban and curved dagger, raises his spear in anticipation. Boulanger heightens the tension by arranging the composition around strong diagonals that intersect at the center of the sheet. Scenes of such animal attacks were quite popular in the Romantic era and included not only prints but also sculpture, such as that by Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875). For the Romantics, such demonstrations of animal savagery evoked the untamed human spirit that lay beneath socially regulated behaviour. This scene, by including the “Eastern” figure, adds a layer of exoticism alluding to the interest in North African and Arab cultures during this time.