The Little Patriots.
JEANRON Philippe-Auguste (1809 - 1877)
JEANRON Philippe-Auguste (1809 - 1877)
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - P. Bernard
Publication date: November 2010
The disappointed hopes of the July Monarchy
Philippe-Auguste Jeanron, who will be the ephemeral director of the National Museums in March 1848, is a Republican from the start . He also sympathizes with future officials of the Second Republic such as Marrast and Ledru-Rollin .
Like many social democrats, the painter, who took part in the “Trois Glorieuses”, was quickly disappointed by the July monarchy. But has he ever deluded himself on this diet? Yes The Little Patriots, canvas exhibited at the Salon of 1831, is less desperate than Paris scene, awarded at the Salon of 1833, it is no less fraught with ambiguities.
The center of Little Patriots is occupied by a child standing and in profile. This little boy, armed with a weapon and a cartridge belt, wearing a polytechnician's bicorne, faces a sleeping toddler, his cheek resting on a block of stone. Behind them, two other little ones are sitting and watching. The first, a rosy and serious face, looks in the direction of the painter and the spectator taken as witness. The second, who has interlaced three ribbons at the end of his rifle to form a tricolor flag, scrutinizes a senior executive whom we will never discover
As evidenced by their torn clothes and bare shoulders, these cherubim, at least ten years old, have just fought for Freedom. But, unlike most of the artists who illustrated the event, Jeanron did not place these sons of the people alongside the National Guard and the school student - who here simply lent his headdress. The four heroes, equipped with the adult rifle and not the traditional pistols, hold the seat alone, at night, in a street that cannot be located despite the presence, in the distance, of the golden dome of a church.
At the end of the field, in front of a crowd without individualized faces and near a dead horse, two kids lie, one on its back, the other on its stomach. With their white shirts, their pants, blue for one, red for the other, these two victims draw a new banner.
In Paris scene, children also dominate the composition. Two boys and a girl surround a poor fellow, probably their father. Two of them have their eyelids closed, but, unlike the "little patriot," they did not doze off late at night from the sleep of the righteous. For lack of a roof to shelter them, they doze off in broad daylight, leaning against the stone of a parapet that runs along the Seine. The tricolor cockade on the hat, the bandage that protrudes from the headdress ... everything reminds us that the man was one of the rioters in July. But if, in Jeanron's work, the bourgeois of 1830 do not appear on the barricades alongside the humble, those of 1833 shamelessly disdain the needy who fought for them. A well-to-do couple move away, without a glance for this needy family, towards the beautiful districts, towards the west of the capital. The four poor, meanwhile, turn their backs on the Chamber of Deputies, on the other side, recognizable by the Pont de la Concorde in the background, then very ornate and adorned with statues.
While the "little patriots" looked proudly, off screen, elsewhere, the capital ..., in Paris scene, the only two awake characters now have their eyes only on the ground.
Between 1831 and 1833, Auguste Jeanron, like many others, therefore went from simple mistrust to open struggle against the regime. Yes The Little Patriots suggests that the "Trois Glorieuses" did not abolish social distances, Paris scene convinces that sealed borders now separate “hollow bellies” and “golden bellies” - who found in Louis-Philippe the defender of their interests, the “bourgeois king” having ignored the electoral and parliamentary reform demanded by the opposition . This second picture also betrays the worsening economic crisis, characterized by the rise in the price of bread, the fall in wages and growing unemployment in the big cities.
In the midst of repression and violence  and defying the censorship which is rife again, the republican painters have therefore resolved to fight with their weapons : vitriolic paintings for Jeanron, caricatures and busts of deputies at Daumier …
Paris scene authorizes yet another reading: the staged family is incomplete and the absence of a mother reminds us that cholera, which broke out in the capital in March 1832, claimed a very high number of victims , mainly among the humble.
- tricolour flag
- July Monarchy
Jean-Claude CARON France from 1815 to 1848 Paris, Armand Colin, coll. "Cursus", 1996. Marie-Claude CHAUDONNERET "Auguste Jeanron", in 1815-1830.The romantic years , catalog of the exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de NantesParis, RMN, 1996, p.407.
To cite this article
Myriam TSIKOUNAS, "The disappointed hopes of the July Monarchy"