Celebrations of the Revolution under IIIe Republic

Celebrations of the Revolution under III<sup>e</sup> Republic

  • July 14, 1880.

    ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

  • The Celebration of the centenary of the Estates-General of 1789, [...], May 5, 1889.

    ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

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Title: July 14, 1880.

Author : ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

Creation date : 1880

Date shown: July 14, 1880

Dimensions: Height 175 - Width 370

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas Preparatory sketch of the painting exhibited at the Salon of 1882.

Storage location: Petit Palais Museum

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bullozsite web

Picture reference: 02-014706 / INV829bis

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

To close

Title: The Celebration of the centenary of the Estates-General of 1789, [...], May 5, 1889.

Author : ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

Date shown: 05 May 1889

Dimensions: Height 144 - Width 230

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.Full title: The Celebration of the centenary of the Estates-General of 1789, by President Sadi Carnot at the Neptune basin in the gardens of Versailles, May 5, 1889.

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

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web

Picture reference: 96-008268 / MV6238

The Celebration of the centenary of the Estates-General of 1789, [...], May 5, 1889.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Publication date: March 2008

Doctorate in Art History

Historical context

The municipal and senatorial elections of 1879 consecrate the victory of the republicans over the royalists. On January 30 the monarchist Mac-Mahon resigned; a republican, Jules Grévy, becomes President of the Republic after a decade of a strange Republic left in the hands of the monarchists. The institutional rebuilding of the country is marked by a series of celebrations and public commissions which extol the heritage of 1789 and place the Third Republic in the continuity of the original republic.

The consecration of July 14 as a national holiday is one of the most symbolic measures: it celebrates the storming of the Bastille as much as the feast of the Federation, the first anniversary of the event, which marked the awakening of a national conscience. .
The revolutionary commemoration will also become the instrument of legitimization of a threatened republican power: the state opportunely orchestrates the centenary of the Revolution to neutralize the Boulangist crisis and strengthen its popularity. It is conveniently updated with the inauguration of the Universal Exhibition, of which it constitutes the preliminary ceremony.

Image Analysis

July 14, 1880 condenses all the actors and ingredients of the popular festival in the same scene: a jubilant audience of all ages occupies the lower half of the image; a spectator platform on the right responds to a marching band on the left, the pole adorned with a trophy of tricolor flags forming the median axis of this relatively symmetrical composition.

Halfway up, a dragon's helmet emerging above the crowd in the distance (to the left) hints at the passage of a military parade. All attend, on the former Place du Château d'Eau, the inauguration of the monument dedicated to the Republic, visible in the background, built by the Morice brothers following a competition organized the previous year. by the City of Paris.

If the allegorical statue - a plaster version, while awaiting its execution in bronze - makes it possible to recognize the place to which it gave its name, the indications of place are limited and the depth of the scene remains limited, the painter privileging, in this preparatory sketch, the surface effects to make the agitation of the crowd feverish by means of an extreme density of figures, a contrasting scattering of colors, the chromatic range being reduced essentially to the three tones of the French flag .

The Celebration of the Estates General of 1789 takes up the principle of plastic condensation of the crowd, but to meet the readability requirements of the official painting, the painter tempered the effect of immediacy by organizing the image in a more rational and hierarchical manner. The collective momentum converges on the political actors: predicted Sadi Carnot and his minister Pierre Tirard stand out from the compact mass of assistants. Roll's naturalistic touch also captures the portraits of illustrious men of the regime: they can be recognized in them, among others, Clarétie, Massenet and Zola. The blue, white and red notes introduced into the composition by the costumes of the accomplices allusively recall the national character of the celebration, but the absence of the tricolor decorations underlines the solemnity of the moment: the painter no longer captures a celebration but a ceremony. official site for which the garden of the Palace of Versailles serves as a grandiose theater.


A sacred deposit, a common ground for all French people, the Revolution intervenes in all the great moments of the political life of the country when the Republic becomes its official regime. The national holiday which celebrates it is, in fact, above all that of the people: it is the celebration of their pride regained after the humiliating defeat of 1870; it is that of its republican identity, which the regime must exalt to secure its future. The holding of the 1889 World's Fair, punctuated from start to finish by the Centenary ceremonies, was a determining electoral agent: in the fall, Boulangisme was defeated at the polls.

While the government readily turned to Édouard Detaille to represent military ceremonies, Alfred Roll was referred to by his social concerns as the quintessential painter of popular enthusiasm. A follower of the naturalistic aesthetic advocated by Zola and Castagnary, the one who made the working-class and militant people one of the main players in his work is the ideal artist of the Third Republic.

  • July 14th
  • tricolour flag
  • Presidency of the Republic
  • Third Republic
  • Versailles
  • Carnot (Sadi)
  • Grevy (Jules)
  • Mac Mahon (Patrice de)


Maurice AGULHONMarianne in power, republican imagery and symbolism from 1880 to 1914Paris, Flammarion, 1989.Christian AMALVI “Le 14-Juillet”, in Memorial place, volume I, The RepublicPierre NORA (dir.), Paris, Gallimard, 1984, reprint 1997. Olivier IHLThe Republican DayParis, Gallimard, Library of stories, 1996 Olivier LE BIHAN (dir.)Alfred Roll (1846-1919): naturalism in questionParis, Somogy, 2007.Rosemonde SANSONJuly 14, feast and national conscience (1789-1975)Paris, Flammarion, 1976.Pierre VAISSEThe Third Republic and the paintersParis, Flammarion, 1995.

To cite this article

Mehdi KORCHANE, "Celebrations of the Revolution under the IIIe Republic "