Cholera in Amiens (1866)

Cholera in Amiens (1866)

  • Empress Eugenie visiting cholera patients in Amiens.

    FERAGU Auguste (1816 - 1892)

  • Empress Eugenie visiting the cholera patients at Hôtel-Dieu in Amiens, July 4, 1866.

    GUERIE Paul-Félix (1819)

  • Empress Eugenie protecting the cities of Amiens and Paris from cholera.

    BRUNEL-ROCQUE Antoine-Léon (1822)

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Title: Empress Eugenie visiting cholera patients in Amiens.

Author : FERAGU Auguste (1816 - 1892)

Creation date : 1878

Date shown: 1866

Dimensions: Height 90 - Width 120

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (area of ​​Compiègne) / Thierry Le Mage

Picture reference: 09-506179 / IMP208

Empress Eugenie visiting cholera patients in Amiens.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (area of ​​Compiègne) / Thierry Le Mage

To close

Title: Empress Eugenie visiting the cholera patients at Hôtel-Dieu in Amiens, July 4, 1866.

Author : GUERIE Paul-Félix (1819 -)

Creation date : 1866

Date shown: 04 July 1866

Dimensions: Height 42 - Width 59

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (area of ​​Compiègne) / Thierry Le Mage

Picture reference: 09-506186 / IMP83

Empress Eugenie visiting the cholera patients at Hôtel-Dieu in Amiens, July 4, 1866.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (area of ​​Compiègne) / Thierry Le Mage

To close

Title: Empress Eugenie protecting the cities of Amiens and Paris from cholera.

Author : BRUNEL-ROCQUE Antoine-Léon (1822 -)

Creation date : 1866

Date shown: 1866

Dimensions: Height 46 - Width 38

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 00DE16439 / MMPO. 208

Empress Eugenie protecting the cities of Amiens and Paris from cholera.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Between the summer of 1865 and the winter of 1866, cholera made its appearance in many parts of France. In 1866, the city council of the capital struck a commemorative bronze medal.

Image Analysis

The painting by Auguste Feragu represents the Empress Eugenie leaving the Hôtel-Dieu d'Amiens on July 4, 1866. Behind the Empress stand the civil and religious authorities: Doctor Connau, Councilor of State and Prefect of the Somme, accompanied by his wife, Mr. Dhavernat, mayor of the city, the bishop of Amiens; behind these notabilities, health personnel, doctors and nuns. The Empress is soberly dressed in black; she wears a small black bonnet fastened with a ribbon tied under the chin. She is accompanied by the Countess of Lourmel, Lady of the Palace.
In front of the Hôtel-Dieu, a few Amiens are waiting for him. A little boy walks up to her and gives her a plea.
The Hôtel-Dieu is located in the Saint-Leu district, a working-class district dominated by the imposing mass of the cathedral which stands in the background. You can see the swarming crowd and, to the left, the entrance to the Saint-Leu church.
The painting by Paul-Félix Guérie represents Empress Eugenie inside the Hôtel-Dieu itself. The large common room, whose high ceiling is supported by wooden pillars, is divided in two by a plank partition. We can see the stove pipe which heats the room. The beds are spread over three rows. In the center of the canvas, the Empress is leaning over a bed where a sick man lies. As in Auguste Feragu’s painting, she is very simply dressed in black. A sister of charity stands on the other side of the bed. Behind the Empress are civil, military and religious authorities, including the Prefect of the Somme and the Bishop of Amiens. The hall is filled with a large crowd. To the right, at the foot of a bed, a kneeling man is cleaning the floor.
Antoine-Léon Brunel-Rocque's painting on canvas has the shape of an oval medallion. This is the original composition, preparatory to the decoration of a vase ordered from the Sèvres factory to commemorate the visit of the Empress to Amiens on July 4, 1866. It was delivered “in the name of HM the Emperor, at the Napoleon Museum in the city of Amiens ”in May 1870.
The theme treated by Brunel-Rocque is an allegory. At the center of the composition, Empress Eugenie, standing, stretches out her arms towards two kneeling, turreted women who symbolize the cities of Paris and Amiens hit by the epidemic. At the feet of the sovereign, two dying dragons, throwing flames and smoke, embody the cholera defeated by the intercession of the Empress.

Interpretation

Auguste Feragu and Paul-Félix Guérie represented the same event, but they staged it in a totally different way.
Cholera is virtually absent from Auguste Feragu's picture. The Empress is shown leaving the Hôtel-Dieu and the painter insists more on the official nature of his visit to Amiens. The eye is drawn to this little boy presenting a plea to the sovereign, who majestically extends his hand to receive it and thus shows that the imperial power is listening to the problems and aspirations of the people.
Conversely, cholera is at the center of Paul-Félix Guérie's painting. Despising the deadly contagion, the Empress leans over a sick man's bed and comforts her. The work has a much more social scope. The hospital universe is represented here in all its ugliness: dilapidated buildings with leprous walls, overcrowding, basic hygiene ... The Empress is presented as a character close to the misery of the people.
Nevertheless, in both cases, the artist becomes the propagandist of the imperial regime. It highlights the power's ostentatious desire to share the trials of the people and to bring them help and comfort, an approach tinged with paternalism and which is not exempt from demagoguery at a time when the sovereigns are in search of popularity.
Antoine-Léon Brunel-Rocque's composition goes much further than the two previous works in demagogic propaganda. Well known as a painter of religious subjects, Brunel-Rocque was deliberately inspired by Christian iconography to represent the empress in the attitude of a victorious saint slaying the epidemic, thus lending her the thaumaturgical power formerly vested in some rulers of the Capetian dynasty.

  • allegory
  • epidemics
  • hygiene
  • hospitals
  • Empress Eugenie (Montijo de)
  • propaganda
  • Second Empire

Bibliography

Count FLEURY, Louis SONOLET Second Empire society t.3, “1863-1867”, Paris, Albin Michel.The Journal of France n ° 60 (1970), color reproduction p.1655.The Second Empire 1852-1870 in Illustrated history of France, 2000 years of images , color reproduction p.85. Etienne PALMA, “Salon de 1868”, Paris review 1868 vol.XI, p.239.Art in France under the Second Empire Catalog of the exhibition, Paris, Grand Palais, May 11 - August 13, 1979, p.226 (notice n ° 117 concerning the Amiens vase). Amiens catalog, Musée de Picardie, 1876, p.198, n ° 2137 .

To cite this article

Alain GALOIN, "Cholera in Amiens (1866)"


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