Armenian News Network / Groong

An Introduction and Some Background to Our Video

An Intimate Look at a Bronze Statue of Emmanuel Fremiet’s

Gorilla and Woman”


Installed in Allerton Park and Retreat Center,

University of Illinois, Monticello, Illinois.

Appreciating More Fully A Marketing Strategy Used for the Film


“Ravished Armenia”


Armenian News Network / Groong
6, 2021


by Eugene L. Taylor and Abraham D. Krikorian

Probing the Photographic Record




We believe that images can and often do serve as weapons for achieving social justice concerning a wide range of topics. They can supplement and expand any given agenda. We also believe that no matter how relevant, dramatic or convincing any image is, if there is no political will to follow through on this general theme of using the image as a weapon, no progress can be made. It all devolves into being an effort of merely locating or finding potentially relevant photographs, images and artwork, and working on their interpretation as best one can. In a word, this approach is totally dependent on the fervor with which one is determined to publicize and achieve some level of political control of a given narrative using imagery. Admittedly it is but one strategy to educate and shape public opinion. Seen honestly yet critically, the events of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks during and after World War I apply today without any question to understanding the greater issue of impunity versus truth, especially in connection with genocides.

The old concept of impunity, although not always specifically referred to by that name, was certainly important at the time of the Genocides, and it is still very much in the public eye not only because one of the most egregious examples of impunity stems directly from that period, but because of its persistence as a problem. The ever-present challenge is how to confront truth in the face of impunity. Strategic ambiguity has become an evasive phrase to describe the concept of governments being deliberately non-committal. When we were kids we learned early of the quite direct abhorrent concept of being “two faced.”

The Allies, the so-called Great Powers, ‘kicked the can down the road’ by ignoring the facts and the blunt, brutal truth of mass murder perpetrated by the Turks during and after World War I. Almost immediately after the War ended, the Allies cast a blind eye and deaf ear not only on this crime but on many important matters. This was done for their own selfish, parochial interests and convenience. This deplorable behavior set the stage for disgraceful accommodations in the coming years to all kinds of atrocities and crimes against humanity. This is a fact that cannot be minimized, much less ignored. Even so, in the context of today’s political realities, truth matters all too little in far too many quarters.

See 4 lectures on Impunity and the Armenian Genocide given to the Freshman Seminar at Stony Brook University:-


Having said this, one might ask specifically what does present-day Turkey have to do with the Armenian Genocide and the other late Ottoman Genocides? One could respond with the short and sweet “Nothing,” but this response is easily challenged because present-day Turkey boasts far and wide and regularly of its Ottoman Heritage and continuity from its Ottoman background. This being so, we argue that one cannot have it both ways.

In like manner, we may ask “Do present-day Turks in Turkey have any connection with the Genocide of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire, and more specifically the persistent and consistent denial by their government of what the vast majority of others like scholars and informed individuals acknowledge as an undeniable fact. Are there any signs that they will ever acknowledge this or not?” It is easily shown that the present-day country of Turkey not only inevitably denies that its predecessor state committed genocide, but reflexively and doggedly defends what ‘really’ happened by insisting that the Armenian minority constituted a threat to the integrity and security of the Empire by virtue of their being a Fifth column that clearly, and actively sided with Turkey’s enemies. This assertion had nothing to do with reality by the way. (It is not our intention here to step back in time and defend to the core every statement we make. We firmly believe in our accuracy and can easily defend our views with a wide array of references.)

An Internet site kindly set up for us on Groong, the Armenian News Network by Asbed Bedrossian entitled Witnesses to Massacres and Genocide and their Aftermath: Probing the Photographic Record has provided an opportunity for us to indeed “probe” the question of imagery. To date we have only scratched the surface and much remains to be done (see:

Photographs are very important in this developing field of utilizing imagery for education concerning matters of genocide, but the greatest impact that is still to be achieved we would argue will be through film and the moving image. Readers will agree that the thousands of films dealing with the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews have turned that disastrous event into the paramount paradigm for the mass public’s understanding of what is meant by genocide and ‘The Holocaust.’ Only relatively recently has the occasional inclusion of non-Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide like Gypsies, Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Homosexuals and others crept into the gruesome narrative and become a bit of a reality - even though very poorly understood by most. The progress on this broad front has been very slow and erratic.

Because of the origins and actual nature, as well as the time and places of execution of the crimes of the Ottoman Genocides, it was very poorly documented on film and certainly on motion picture film. The fact is that photographic technology before and during World War I was nowhere as sophisticated as it was just pre-World War II and -during World War II. But it was not the sole reason that visual documentation is so poor. Prohibition by the Turkish government of any kind of photography of the so-called ‘deportation’ and ‘relocation’ events as they deceptively and blandly called them, in general was more or less strictly enforced.

One can point out, indeed should point out, that there was a film made in Hollywood in 1919 that was intended to inform the American public about the Young Turk government’s persecutions of Christians in their Empire, and to elicit widespread support for relief of the surviving Armenian remnants after what we now know as the “Genocide.” It was entitled “Ravished Armenia.” So far as we know from viewing the approximately 15 minute long film fragment, it was an amazing piece of work and included many especially raw, sordid and ugly aspects of the genocides. (Incidentally, we refer to the film as “Ravished Armenia” even though the printed entry provided below in Fig. 1 refers to it as “Auction of Souls.”)

Please take the trouble to read the entry for the film provided in Fig. 1, which was taken from what amounts to a comprehensive dictionary/encyclopedia of film. This summary presents all the important particulars associated with the movie.


Description automatically generated

Fig. 1.

Page from a volume that constitutes a comprehensive inventory of films. One can see that the entry uses the title “Auction of Souls.” Film distributor, producer and writer Wid Gunning published this piece in what was called The Film Daily. Note that Viscount Bryce’s name is mis-spelled.


The graphic details of the film “Auction of Souls” or “Ravished Armenia” were believed to be so potentially offensive to the viewing public at large and ‘the Turks’ especially, that the showing of the film was censored in England and in parts of America. Fortunately the ban was challenged in the courts, particularly in America and the attempted ban was legally squashed. It was only in 1920 that Britain allowed the film to be shown at Albert Hall in London under the sponsorship of the League of Nations, but only after considerable removal of parts which the Censor’s office at Scotland Yard did not like.

Figure 2 below shows an excerpt from a Pennsylvania newspaper describing how a Philadelphia court defended the showing of the film and emphasized that it was not objectionable but educational.


Text, letter

Description automatically generated

Fig. 2.

From Altoona Tribune 7 January, Wednesday, 1920 pg. 7.


It was not long after we first learned of the film “Ravished Armenia” that we ended up being very disappointed. We discovered that the movie for all practical purposes existed in name only. “Ravished Armenia” in its entirety had been a casualty of the all-too-common deterioration of nitrate movie films of the period. Happily, a short intact fragment was found in Armenia, and an attempt was made to ‘restore’ and edit it in California so as to provide proper context along with commentary by means of short explanatory subtitles. A few attempts to add background music to the footage were made at different times with different degrees of success.

The details of this saga are all quite well documented (see References provided at the end of this posting.) One reference is especially important because it was historically speaking a blockbuster, and brilliantly analytical. It was written by Dr. Leshu Torchin, now at St. Andrews University Scotland. Fifteen years ago she was finishing up her doctorate in Film Studies at New York University (see Torchin, 2006). Her pioneer paper published in American Anthropologist set the stage and provided the context for understanding all films of that genre and is therefore as relevant today as it was when it was first published.

For us, a special feature of the advertising connected with the film “Ravished Armenia” involved some rather high quality and very interesting art work issued as a poster. As it turned out, specimens of this key piece of art work were rather rare as well, and only a few good quality copies of it are known to exist today (see Fig. 3).


A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 3.

Photographic reproduction of a “Ravished Armenia” movie marquée poster. It shows a very dark-complected, mean-looking “Unspeakable Turk” (a term long-used as a general pejorative) brandishing a huge sword and kidnapping and carrying off a very fair-skinned victimized Armenian maiden for subsequent ravishing and abuse. The presence of a full moon in the background confirms that this scene is occurring at night. The upper left side of the poster reads “That all America may see and understand.” Courtesy of Political Poster Collection No. 4187, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University.


In short, we undertook as detailed a study of the movie poster for “Ravished Armenia” as we could in view of the circumstances. We published the first of our findings on Groong (Taylor and Krikorian, 2010) and were pleased that it elicited a fair amount of interest. (A dealer who had newly found two good quality original specimens of the poster contacted us for information. We showed a real interest in buying one but as it turned out, they were sold at very hefty prices beyond our means.)

The title of this first publication is:- Notes and Queries Relevant to “A Brief Assessment of the Ravished Armenia Marquee Poster” by Amber Karlins; published as a Research Note in the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies vol. 19:1 (2010a), pgs. 137-145: Filling in Some Gaps and a Call for Information. It may be found at

This online post was followed up with a more detailed print paper entitled “Ravished Armenia Revisited:” Some Additions to “A Brief Assessment of the Ravished Armenia Marquee Poster” (Taylor and Krikorian, 2010b). The images in this paper were in black and white whereas many of the ones posted on Groong were in color.

The key point that emerged from our extensive investigations was that the theme of the marquee poster produced for advertising and accompanying the screening of the film “Ravished Armenia” in places like theater lobbies, derived after several iterations and versions of work by various illustrators and artists. Of paramount importance was the concept behind a sculpture made by French ‘animalier’ sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet using a gorilla and woman as the prototype for the unbridled Turkish ruffian and accosted Armenian maiden.

See Fig. 4 below for a portrait of Emmanuel Frémiet published on the cover of Le Journal Illustré 14 August 1892, 29the year, No. 33 Sunday. The drawn image was by one H. Meyer, and the engraver signed himself as N.M. This issue of the journal included a short feature of Frémiet because he had been newly elected to the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts.


A person in a suit

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Fig. 4.


We found some additional very helpful confirmation for our findings about the Poster and Frémiet’s gorilla and woman sculpture when we succeeded in tracking down a full page advertisement for “Ravished Armenia” in The Saturday Evening Post. (We have never encountered a good quality full page copy with the illustration of this elsewhere. Smaller and less well-defined versions of the image were used widely however in various newspaper articles.)



A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 5.

A page from The Saturday Evening Post that presents the theme of the “Ravished Armenia” marquee poster in the form of a good quality drawing. This drawing leaves little to the imagination as to what the film was about, and artist Dan Smith clearly credited his inspiration for his drawing “after E. Fremiet.” Readers may justifiably argue that the text is more than a bit overstated but admittedly it is effective. Scanned from an original print copy of The Saturday Evening Post volume 191, (no. 29) January 18, 1919 pg. 28).


Frémiet had become especially well-known for his works dealing with animals early on in his career but he was also quite versatile with not only animals but a wide range of subjects - even a much-appreciated statue of Joan of Arc on her horse. His “Gorille” sculpture which was presented at the Paris salon in 1887 arguably marked the full flowering of his prolific production of exotic art work. ‘Gorille’ was controversial. Some thought its very presentation was a scandal. The “Gorille” carrying off a woman was described later on as deserving the most outrageous Freudian interpretations. The sculpture went through several versions. The first was a life-size plaster, destroyed early on, entitled Gorille enlevant une négresse [Gorilla Carrying off a Negress] and was presented as early as 1859. He followed with others using more or less the same theme of abduction (see Fig.6.).

An American commentator said that his “well-known statue of a gorilla dragging a woman through the forest would be more lifelike if the gorilla were a man. Gorillas never kill their wives.”

And so it began. The general concept of the supposedly savage, ruthless gorilla becoming the prototype and representative for uncivilized, uncouth, aggressive and violent human behavior especially so far as young maidens were concerned, soon became adopted as the ‘norm.’ The truth is that the gorilla is a gentle, even shy animal. We have been privileged to see them in their native habitat. See:


.A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 6

Emmanuel Frémiet’s “Gorille” scanned from L’Art, Revue bi-mensuelle illustrée 1887 vol. 13, pg. 83. This journal is also known as L’Art: revue hebdomaire illustrée. The top of the page reads “Salon de 1887.” The commentary beneath the image points out that the heliogravure of Frémiet’s sculpture was by one Dujardin.



The adoption of the theme of communicating ruthless, brute force from the gorilla to ‘the Turk’ had a number of predecessors. We shall present a few examples of switching prototype portrayal and transferring looks as well. It will give an idea of the range of themes and contexts from which a boorish thuggish gorilla emerged and got solidified. First and foremost, the idea of sex and violence and lack of any civility is paramount in each of these (see Figs. 7 through 10).


A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 7.

“White Slavery.”  From cover of Leslie’s, the People’s Weekly September 12, 1912.


A picture containing calendar

Description automatically generated

Fig. 8a.

Figs. 8a, 8b and 8c. Cartoon in the French weekly satirical journal Baionnette vol. 35, 2 March 1916.

The caption translates as “The Product of German Science.” The primitive modern German soldier has been produced through ingenious atavism to say the least.



A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 8b.

Cropped from Fig. 8a.


A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated

Fig. 8c.

Cropped from Fig. 8a.


A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 9.

Cartoon originally published in the German satirical weekly journal Lustige Blätter (Munich). This was reprinted in Cartoons Magazine, 1916 pg. 790 under the caption Watchful Waiting in the Balkans. The caption continues “The Victim [Das Opfer]. You beast! Then has it come to this? You’ve dragged Greece to the precipice… “We’re coming for you, John Gorilla.” Drawing by the German graphic artist W.A. Wellner.


A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 10.

Cartoon with caption (not shown here) asking “How can the world make peace with this thing?” From Current History (NY Times) vol. 8, no. 3 1918 pg. 558. The maiden is labelled “Civilization” and the German gorilla carries the label “The World Curse of Prussianism.” It was originally published in The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch. The inset states “This is intolerable thing…..without conscience or honor or capacity for covenanted peace.” Statement credited to President Woodrow Wilson Dec. 4, 1917.



A picture containing text, tree

Description automatically generated

Fig. 11.


German soldier, ‘the Hun,’ (perhaps even Kaiser William II himself) portrayed wearing a Pickelhaube spiked helmet-wearing fierce gorilla reaching out across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to the shores of the United States to grab ‘Lady Liberty.’ The gorilla already clutches yet another female figure, probably Belgium or France. A burning Cathedral - most likely the Cathedral of St. Pierre in Louvain, Belgium which the Germans destroyed in the early stages of World War I, military vehicles in the air like airplanes and a dirigible, and artillery rubble may be seen in the background and foreground. Cartoon by J. Norman Lynd, around 1917. Philadelphia: The Colonial Press. From Library of Congress Prints & Photographs.


A point that has seized our attention early on and has stuck in our minds about advertising “Ravished Armenia” is that while the Frémiet Gorilla analogy poster for the film was certainly the most popular and widely used advertising and presentation style, it may have been thought by some that using something perhaps a bit less directly sexual and damning might be useful as well for a specific advertisement purpose (see Fig. 12a.). A color page published in the Sunday weekly edition of the New York American 12 January 1919 featured a girl with shackles torn asunder and the caption “How Little Aurora Mardiganian, who escaped from the cruel Turks, is helping to raise $30,000,000 to save what is left of these persecuted Christians.” The very successful commercial artist and illustrator Howard Chandler Christy has signed this page.

The inset Fig. 12b. gives more details. The original published page is 21 inches in height and 16 and a half inches wide.




A picture containing text, book

Description automatically generated

Fig. 12a.



Description automatically generated

Fig. 12b.

Enlargement of inset Fig. 12a.

Typographical error $30,000,000, not $300,000,000.


Perhaps the way to get a broad yet detailed overview of Frémiet’s gorilla statues, and their significance up to the present, is to read Gott and Weir (2013). Earlier publications by Gott are very useful as well (see Gott, 2005, 2007). His 2013 work features a bronze version of “Gorille” by Frémiet which was in the collection of the Victoria Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia. A special feature of Gott’s work traces in great detail how the Melbourne specimen of Frémiet’s “Gorilla” came into the possession of the Victoria Museum.

There are also some interesting stories, but unfortunately these are as yet not well documented, regarding how a specimen of the “Gorilla” made its way into the collection of the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana. It seems that an American, Samuel Allerton, while in Paris, visited Frémiet’s studio and purchased a couple of his statues. One was the “Gorille.” It is said that Frémiet needed money to re-do the base of his magnificent statue of Joan of Arc which was apparently sinking and needed renewal.

The statues ultimately made their way to Chicago and finally ended up many years later in 1986 being moved from the Allerton Park estate, part of a piece of property donated by John Allerton, the adopted son of Samuel Allerton, to the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois located on the Champaign campus.

Amazingly, or perhaps not-so-amazingly, some artists at the University took it on themselves to complain about the two Frémiet statues that were on display at an exhibit at the Krannert. [We will not bother covering the second statue since our focus is on the Gorilla.] They went so far as to insist that the statues be melted down! Fortunately, this never came to pass.

When we first learned of the “Gorilla” statue being at the Krannert Museum, we placed it on our schedule to visit the Museum and see the statue on our next cross-country trip, and did so in 2017. We posted a video on our Conscience Films YouTube site in September 2021 which goes into some detail about how the statue of the gorilla made its way back to the Allerton Estate in Monticello, Illinois.




A statue in the woods

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceFig. 13.

Photograph taken on first sighting by us at Allerton Park in October 2017.



Brault, Samantha R. (2016) “The Barbarians of Hollywood”: The exploitation of Aurora Mardiganian by the American film industry. Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research vol. 2, Article 18, 22-33.


Gott, Ted (2005) Stowed away. Emmanuel Frémiet’s Carrying Off a Woman. Art Bulletin of Victoria (Melbourne) 45, 6-17.


Gott, Ted (2007)‘It is lovely to be a gorilla, sometimes’: the art and influence of Emmanuel Fremiet, Gorilla Sculptor, pgs. 198-219, In D.R. Marshall, ed., Art, site and spectacle: studies in early modern visual culture. Melbourne, Victoria, Fine Arts Network.


Gott, Ted and Weir, Kathryn (2013) “Gorilla.” Reaktion Books: London.


Taylor, Eugene L. and Krikorian, Abraham D. (2010a, Dec. 20, 2010 Groong) by “A brief assessment of the Ravished Armenia Marquee Poster by Amber Karlins: published as a Research Note in the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 19:1 (2010), pgs. 137-145: Filling in Some Gaps and a Call for Information”.


Taylor, Eugene L and Krikorian, Abraham D. (2010b) “Ravished Armenia: Revisited:” Some Additions to “A Brief Assessment of the Ravished Armenian Marquee Poster,” Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 19:2 (2010), pgs. 179-215.


Torchin, Leshu (2005) “Ravished Armenia: Visual media, humanitarian advocacy, and the formation of witnessing publics,” American Anthropologist Vol. 108, March, pgs. 214-220.


Zgörniak, Marek with Marta Kupera and Mark Singer (2006) Gorillas” Why do they carry off women? Artibus et Historiae Vol. 27, pgs. 219-237.




© Copyright 2021 Armenian News Network/Groong and the authors. All Rights Reserved.

Home Administrative | Introduction | Armenian News | Podcasts | Feedback |