Thiers proclaimed "Liberator of the Territory", June 16, 1877

Thiers proclaimed

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Title: Thiers proclaimed "Liberator of the Territory" during the session of the National Assembly

Author : GARNIER Jules (-)

Date shown: June 18, 1877

Dimensions: Height 63 - Width 99.5

Technique and other indications: Full title: Thiers proclaimed "Liberator of the Territory" during the session of the National Assembly held in Versailles on June 16, 1877.Chromolithography; Engraving

Storage place: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Picture reference: 92DE984 / inv engravings 6729

Thiers proclaimed "Liberator of the Territory" during the session of the National Assembly

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The end of a long career

At the start of the Third Republic, Adolphe Thiers completed a long political career that began under the Restoration. Therefore Thiers must resign and give way to Marshal Mac-Mahon.

Image Analysis

A sitting incident

The purchase from Ullmann (of which the work presented here is a copy), painter of numerous paintings commemorating the battles of 1870-1871 and the siege of Paris, of this scene of parliamentary life continues a tradition of historical painting that has known its apotheosis under the July Monarchy. However, one can wonder about its real vigor: nothing really supports here an essentially narrative composition, which boils down to a movement of deputies and above all to a gallery of portraits.

The scene takes place on June 18, 1877 in the Chamber of Deputies, then installed in Versailles, two days after the overthrow of the Broglie, royalist government. Let's follow the report of the session as given to the Official newspaper : "The Minister of the Interior:" The men who are in government today came out of the 1871 elections and were part of this National Assembly, which we can say was the pacifier of the country and the liberator of the territory! ” (“Very good”, right). Several members, pointing to Mr. Thiers: "There he is, the liberator of the territory!" (At this moment, the members of the left and of the center rise and, turning to M. Thiers, greet him with the loudest cheers and the warmest applause.) "


End or continuity of historical painting?

This sitting incident, the political significance of which was in fact essentially symbolic, illustrates the tensions which have run through the Chamber since the dismissal on May 16, 1877 of the President of the Council Jules Simon, a Republican, by Mac-Mahon. Always desirous of a monarchical restoration, the latter has indeed come up against a majority Republican Chamber since the elections of 1876. The political crisis which breaks out then leads to a union effect among the Republicans: the former "fusilleur de la Commune" Is above all presented as the initiator of the new regime. To insist on his personal role at the expense of that of the Assembly of 1871, which was then monarchist, goes in the same direction.

This work is, however, as far removed from the heroic painting of David or Gros as it is from the anecdotal one of Horace Vernet. The artist is practically reduced to the role of a reporter-photographer, the dimensions of the painting bringing out even more the emptiness of thought. The realism of the description, the accuracy frankly assumed as a goal become the only objects of the canvas. We can measure here the difficulty of the representation of contemporary history, at a time when eclecticism and diversity are increasingly emerging as the rule in painting.

  • Thiers (Adolphe)
  • deputies
  • War of 1870
  • Palais-Bourbon
  • Third Republic
  • Mac Mahon (Patrice de)


Pierre GUIRAL Adolphe Thiers or Of necessity in politics Paris, Fayard, 1986 Jean-Marie MAYEUR Political life under the Third Republic Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1984.Michel WINOCK Hexagonal Fever: the major political crises from 1871 to 1968 Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1986, reed. Threshold, coll. “Point Histoire”, 1987.

To cite this article

Barthélemy JOBERT and Pascal TORRÈS, "Thiers proclaimed" Liberator of the Territory ", June 16, 1877"

Video: The Territory is your answer to switching off.