Le Paquebot Indus (Tiger) 1896
The Indus was among the fleet of the Messageries Maritime, a French merchant shipping company that transported passengers and delivered packages and mail to people living in far-flung places. Launched in 1896, this was the menu for the steamship’s first-class passengers who travelled on its Far East route – mainly to Hong Kong and China. There was also room for second and third-class passengers and for the unfortunate people who had to sail in steerage, down below in the bowels of the ship.
This 1896 menu image of a tiger presenting a pot of cooked food was created by the French illustrator and watercolor artist Auguste Vimar. Born in Marseille, France, in 1851, he became an illustrator for children’s books and contributed many of his wonderful animal images to Le Figaro Illustré.
The little chimpanzee waiter below the tiger was also Vimar’s contribution to the fashion at that time for fantastical art images – later he replaced the Chimp with a monkey. This style of artwork became known as magical realism.
This was a hearty dinner menu which included lamb chops, fillet of beef, chicken and fish.
Other menus in this series feature a fox, a lion, an ostrich and a rhinoceros as waiters.
Courtesy Private Collection.