Four prison cells with detainees locked in, separated by their crime. The first, luxuriously furnished, is reserved for fraudulent bankers detained for debt. There, we find animals considered intelligent; a fox, a pig, and a rat, who are relaxing and drinking, reading or seducing a young cat. The other cages are much more miserable and each is reserved for specific infractions. The charges are as follows: “nightly ruckus, breaking and entering, defacing monuments and indecency” for shameless goats and monkeys or nocturnal owls. A tiger paces in the cage marked, “Murder, armed robbery in public,” while an eagle and a hog grieved by a muzzle are imprisoned for political crimes; the evocation of Beranger’s songs (a rebellious, popular singer) and of Galilee constitute an attack against the government and the Church.
The Daily Metamorphoses make up a collection of 71 lithographs depicting daily situations, but the characters are animal heads. These boards thus portray the qualities and vices attributed to animals, those that are often the subject of proverbs. Anthropomorphization is not an invention of the 19th century, but Grandville’s work, that of exceptional expertise, comes to entirely renew this theme.