Boulangism

Boulangism

  • Portrait-charge of General Boulanger.

    ROQUES Gabriel

  • Quesnay de Beaurepaire.

    ANONYMOUS

  • Paul Déroulède.

    PIROU Eugène (1841 - 1909)

  • Maurice Barrès.

    PIROU Eugène (1841 - 1909)

Portrait-charge of General Boulanger.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

To close

Title: Quesnay de Beaurepaire.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Albumen print.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 99-023189 / Pho1983-165-546-184

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

To close

Title: Paul Déroulède.

Author : PIROU Eugène (1841 - 1909)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Albumen print.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 99-023806 / Pho1983-165-546-252

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

To close

Title: Maurice Barrès.

Author : PIROU Eugène (1841 - 1909)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Albumen print.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 99-023473 / Pho1983-165-546-235

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: February 2007

Historical context

General Boulanger and the crisis of the nascent republic

The fall of Napoleon III in Sedan on September 2, 1870, led France into a new political crisis which caused a change of regime. Republicans patiently conquer power, relying in particular on the gradual extension of universal (male) suffrage.

The explosion of the Boulangist phenomenon, as violent as it was brief (1887-1889), put the republic to the test in its principle of popular representation. Boulanger's success indicates above all that the personal dimension of power - fueled by the examples of monarchs and emperors - remained a dominant value in the early days of the democratic era.

Image Analysis

Portraits of the protagonists

Gabriel Roques’s drawings are always presented in the same way: the object of the "charge" appears in the center of the composition, the size of the head is disproportionate. A title and a caption frame this easily identifiable portrait, which is at the same time a caricature. Roques decided to play on the common understanding of the name

“Baker”, a profession with which the cat is often associated. The presence of the small animal, which imitates the horse's step in a funny way, refers to this referent while accentuating the ridicule of a leader who would be nothing but a pseudo- "lion". If Boulanger's horse obeys the conventions of the genre - proud warlike trot and prancing and tamed neck - its rider is ridiculed. Although clearly in the "review" as the orientation of the head indicates, Boulanger appears in civilian dress and in spur rider boots, without a saber. Its cap is reminiscent of a deformed tricorn.

The three photographs we offer as a counterpoint will not be used for a real comparison. Note, however, the importance of framing and costume. The Félix Potin collection - one of the inventors of the mass-market grocery store - consists of small cardboard photographs, where the title of the collection and the name of the character are placed on an equal footing. Quesnay de Beaurepaire (1838-1923) is the attorney general who brought proceedings against Boulanger, Dillon and Rochefort, all three absent, in April 1889 before the High Court of Justice of the Senate. He is full-length, in a magistrate's robe, leaning, as is customary in the official portrait, on what we imagine to be codes of law. Paul Déroulède (1846-1914), founder of the League of Patriots, poses for Eugène Pirou (1841-1909) full face, in bust. Maurice Barrès (1862-1923), champion of the nationalist right, appears as the dandy he was. All three were prominent protagonists of the Boulangist crisis.

Interpretation

Methods of disseminating the image within the population

The "charge" drawn by Gabriel Roques could not be dated with certainty. However, it fits into the iconographic context of Boulanger as well as the (diverted) tradition of the representation of military leaders. The equestrian statue of theimperator Roman, then the King of France, the images of Épinal, which envisioned the multiple uniforms of the imperial army, are familiar to the public eye. But here, Boulanger is in civilian costume, alone against the white background: he is a soldier without an army. His headdress, a modest cap without attributes, undoubtedly symbolizes the political confusion that reigns in the Boulangist camp. The very image implies that Boulanger is only an image: Roques participates in the republican defense set up in 1888.

The Félix Potin collection, published as an album in 1900, numbered five hundred celebrities; the cardboard photograph was offered free of charge for any purchase in the Parisian store. While it went without saying that Barrès and Déroulède are there, the presence of Quesnay de Beaurepaire is quite surprising. It is linked both to its role as defender of the republic at the time of the Boulangist crisis and to its openly anti-Dreyfusard position. The two cases, threats to the regime close in time, thus appear to be linked. Above all, this unprecedented popular mode of dissemination, which complements the usual palette of drawings disseminated on loose sheets or by the press, announces the mass media of the XXe century. Didn't Barres himself say that General Boulanger was born out of "the desire of the masses"?

  • bonapartism
  • boulangisme
  • caricature
  • Barrès (Mauritius)
  • Third Republic
  • Baker (general)
  • Felix Potin collection

Bibliography

Adrien DANSETTE, Boulangisme, Paris, Fayard, 1946.Annie DUPRAT, History of France through caricature, Paris, Larousse, 1999.Raoul GIRARDET, Myths and political mythologies, Paris, Le Seuil, 1986.Jacques NÉRÉ, Boulangisme and the press, Paris, Armand Colin, 1964 (reedited 2005). Jean-François SIRINELLI (ed.), The French rights, from the Revolution to the present day, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "History Folio", 1992.Michel WINOCK, Hexagonal Fever, Paris, Le Seuil, 1987.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Boulangisme"


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