Louis Napoléon, President of the Republic and future emperor

Louis Napoléon, President of the Republic and future emperor

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Title: Prince Louis Napoléon, President of the Republic

Author : GIRAUD Charles (1819 - 1892)

Creation date : 1850

Date shown: 09 June 1850

Dimensions: Height 40.5 - Width 56

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvasFull title:Prince Louis Napoleon, President of the Republic, decorating Jean-Baptiste Pruvost, carter with the Legion of Honor, June 9, 1850, in Saint-Quentin.

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 92DE4975 / C 84001

Prince Louis Napoléon, President of the Republic

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

On June 9, 1850, the City of Saint-Quentin received Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, sole president of the Second Republic.
On December 10, 1848, he was elected head of state for four years, by universal suffrage, with 5,434,000 votes. The latter had also benefited from the support of the Socialists: his Saint-Simonism was a guarantee for them; in 1844 he had published a socializing brochure, The extinction of pauperism, which his electoral agents had widely spread among working-class circles in 1848. He was an ambitious, intelligent man who believed in his destiny - whom he mistook for the restoration of the Empire.

However, the powers of the prince-president were to expire in May 1852 and he was not immediately eligible for re-election. After the failure of the constitutional revision project, there was no other way out for him than a coup.

In 1850 and 1851, Louis Napoleon therefore made numerous official visits to the provinces to prepare the masses and public opinion for the eventuality of a coup d'etat, a prelude to the reestablishment of the Empire. "

Image Analysis

On June 9, 1850, the Prince-President made an official visit to Saint-Quentin, in the Aisne, for the inauguration of the railway. For the occasion, the Academic Society of Saint-Quentin organized a horticultural and industrial exhibition in the buildings of the former abbey of Fervaques. Louis Napoléon visits the exhibition and attends the awards ceremony. It was this episode that Charles Giraud represented.

The painting is divided into two planes. At the first, the public of the notables invited to the ceremony. They are seated and some are applauding. In the background, on a platform behind which are hung draperies, the prince-president, standing, dressed in the uniform of a general of the national guard and assisted by the prefect of the Aisne, decorates a humble Legion of Honor carter, worthy old man in bourgeron. Behind them stand the personalities belonging to the suite of the President of the Republic and the members of the board of the Academic Society of Saint-Quentin, organizer of the event. On either side of the platform, clerks sit behind a desk.

This painting by Charles Giraud is perhaps more of a project than a sketch in the precise sense of the term. There is no trace of an order placed with the painter for the execution of the subject in large format. It is not impossible, moreover, that this act of the President of the Republic Louis Napoleon Bonaparte seemed much less interesting to the Emperor Louis Napoleon, because it was too "democratic".

Interpretation

Charles Giraud represented relatively faithfully this particular moment of the Prince-President's visit to Saint-Quentin. with this nuance, however, that it seemed more spectacular - or more "appropriate" - to capture Jean-Baptiste Pruvost standing, when he is decorated.

The Prince-President is probably very happy to reward himself this venerable farm worker, whitewashed in harness and, moreover, a former soldier of the Emperor's grand army. He shows that he knows how to keep in touch with the working classes of society and thus satisfies the republican and socialist left.

However, this visit by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to Saint-Quentin is fraught with political meaning. In the speech he gives during the banquet which takes place at the Saint-Quentin theater, the prince-president breaks - without denying it - with his past as a conspirator, recalling that he was imprisoned for six years behind the walls of the fortress of Ham - a town close to Saint-Quentin -, after the mad equipped of Boulogne in August 1840. He also recalls that forty-eight years earlier, Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul, came to these places to inaugurate the canal of Saint-Quentin. He therefore places his action in the exact continuity of that of his illustrious predecessor.

Thus, two and a half years before the proclamation of the Empire, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was received in Saint-Quentin more as heir and successor of his uncle the Emperor Napoleon I than as President of the Republic. No one is wrong: people shout "Long live Napoleon!" "," Long live the President! "And even" Long live the Emperor! "The cries of" Long live the Republic! Are shy and quickly suffocated.

  • bonapartism
  • Second Republic
  • Legion of Honor
  • Napoleon III
  • Presidency of the Republic
  • propaganda
  • Second Empire
  • Thiers (Adolphe)
  • Rebellion

Bibliography

R.BURNAND The Encyclopedia through Image - Napoleon III (1808-1873) Paris, Hachette, 1951 Elie FLEURY Visit of heads of state to Saint-Quentin since the turn of the century , 1897. The Journal of Saint-Quentin , Thursday 13 & Sunday 16 June 1850.Jean-Marie MOULIN "National Museum of the Château de Compiègne - Recent acquisitions (1978-1986) for the Second Empire museum" in The Louvre Review , 1988, p.46.R.BURNAND The Encyclopedia through Image - Napoleon III (1808-1873) Paris, Hachette, 1951 Elie FLEURY Visit of heads of state to Saint-Quentin since the turn of the century , 1897. The Journal of Saint-Quentin , Thursday 13 & Sunday 16 June 1850.Jean-Marie MOULIN "National Museum of the Château de Compiègne - Recent acquisitions (1978-1986) for the Second Empire museum" in The Louvre Review , 1988, p.46.

To cite this article

Alain GALOIN, “Louis Napoléon, President of the Republic and future emperor”


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