France defeated

France defeated

  • History page.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

  • France Prometheus and the Eagle Vulture.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

  • Peace, Idyll.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

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Title: History page.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Creation date : 1870

Date shown: 1870

Dimensions: Height 22.7 - Width 18.8

Technique and other indications: Plate of News, Le Charivari, November 16, 1870 Lithography

Storage place: National Library of France (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo National Library of France

Picture reference: News series, Le Charivari, November 16, 1870

© Photo National Library of France

To close

Title: France Prometheus and the Eagle Vulture.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Creation date : 1871

Date shown: 1870

Dimensions: Height 22.7 - Width 19

Technique and other indications: lithograph, second state of two

Storage place: Saint-Denis Art and History Museum

Contact copyright: © Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

France Prometheus and the Eagle Vulture.

© Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

To close

Title: Peace, Idyll.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Creation date : 1871

Date shown: 1870

Dimensions: Height 23.5 - Width 18.4

Technique and other indications: lithograph, second state of two

Storage place: Saint-Denis Art and History Museum

Contact copyright: © Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

© Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The victory of Prussia at Sedan on September 2, 1870 brought about the collapse of the Second Empire. It is around the question of defeat that the political conflicts to come will be formed ...

Image Analysis

Published in The Charivari in November 1870, Story page, where we see the imperial eagle crushed by a volume of Punishments (1853) - a collection of satirical poems through which Victor Hugo, then in exile in Brussels, prophesied the fall of "Napoleon the little one" - is a particularly scathing evocation of the dire destiny of the Second Empire. It should be noted that a proof of this magnificent lithograph kept at the National Library bears the two signatures of the poet and the designer, proof of the close community of view which brought Daumier and Hugo together. It was the latter who would preside over the first retrospective exhibition of Daumier's work organized in 1878, a year before the artist's death, at the Durand-Ruel gallery.
In France-Prometheus and the eagle-vulture, Daumier once again uses the animal language of heraldry to construct a small allegorical scene in which we see the Prussian eagle, a large raptor with widely spread wings, striving like a vulture on the body of a Prometheus riveted to his rock, the obvious personification of defeated France. The date of publication of this lithograph, February 13, 1871, places it after the armistice (January 28), a little before the signing of the preliminaries of peace under which France was to be stripped of Alsace and a part of Lorraine, and subject to the payment of considerable war indemnities. Like the volume of Punishments in History Page, Prometheus here again is a transparent allusion to the errors of imperial France which, like the mythological hero, played with fire ...
As for the plate entitled The peace. Idyll, published on March 6, 1871, it shows Death represented by a skeleton seated on a ruined wall, playing a double trumpet amid a landscape littered with human debris. The deeply ironic character of this work, inspired once again in Daumier by the defeat of France and the signing of the preliminaries of peace, emerges from the antiphrase that the title constitutes in relation to the stage, and from the bucolic climate given to this representation which transposes into the macabre register the classic image of the shepherd playing the flute while grazing his flock. This set of antitheses is refined by details such as the flowered and ribboned hat worn by Death, the funny double trumpet it sports, or the very relaxed posture of the character whose legs are carelessly crossed.

Interpretation

The last political boards of Daumier (1870-1871) are as many reflections of this “terrible year”. Far from offering an anecdotal and picturesque description of events as Callot had done in his famous series of engravings of Miseries of war (1633), they are on the contrary part of the allegorical vein of Disasters of war (1808-1810) by Francisco Goya, whose collection, published only in 1863, was certainly known to Daumier.
These three engravings anticipate the atmosphere of deep crisis - intellectual, moral and political - which will emerge from the defeat of 1870 and from the Commune of 1871, which is one of its consequences.

  • allegory
  • defeat
  • War of 1870
  • Second Empire
  • Hugo (Victor)
  • Thiers (Adolphe)
  • Goya (Francisco de)

Bibliography

Daumier, 1808-1879 catalog of the exhibition at the Grand-Palais (October 5, 1999 - January 3, 2000), Paris, RMN, 1999.

To cite this article

Robert FOHR, "Vanquished France"


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