The first Figaro : “Satirical, spiritual and combative” (1826-1854)
“Le Figaro” first appeared on January 15, 1826, a decade after the Bourbon Dynasty reclaimed the French throne. The reference to Beaumarchais’ opera The Marriage of Figaro was chosen in defiance of the censorship in force under Charles X: the paper thus attracted free thinkers and writers. Hostile to the monarchy, it sought to defend the “French spirit,” conspicuous for its impertinent tone and anticlerical line.
The “satirical, spiritual and combative newspaper,” to quote its subtitle, adopted a four-page portrait format with semi-weekly issues, although this cadence was interrupted on many occasions.
In 1830, after the fall of Charles X, Victor Bohain became prefect under the new king Louis-Philippe I. George Sand, Balzac, Gérard de Nerval and Théophile Gautier contributed to Le Figaro during this period.
In 1832, Le Figaro was taken over by a monarchist faction looking to counter a satirical front led by La Caricature. This shift quelled the paper’s satirical inventiveness.