A pacifist ex-voto

A pacifist ex-voto

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Title: Ex-voto: Wish made by R.O. - 1870-1871.

Author : ROMEO Jules (1832 - 1909)

Creation date : 1871

Date shown: 1870

Dimensions: Height 22.8 - Width 28.1

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: MuCEM website

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

Picture reference: 99CE18722 / 68.91.1

Ex-voto: Wish made by R.O. - 1870-1871.

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

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Recalling by its composition the representations of miraculous apparitions of the Virgin, the painting by Julius Romeo is in fact a quite classic ex-voto such as one finds in many churches of France in the second half of the 19th century.e century. Sometimes the support of a request to a holy intercessor or to the Virgin, most often a mark of thanks for a wish granted, the ex-votos are either objects (crutches, wooden or wax models representing parts of the body. human), either painted pictures, or simple marble slabs.

Image Analysis

The composition includes three registers. In the foreground, a French army sergeant is praying. It is about the person praying, the maker of the wish. Behind him, an unidentified battlefield is set as a backdrop; it is not strictly speaking a battle scene, but the mere evocation of the object of the vow. Separated from the two human scenes by a halo surrounded by a cloud, the Virgin and Child represents the object of worship, the sphere of the miraculous. This recognition of a man who survived a war is reinforced by the representation of this same man in a situation of supplication. The formal distinction of the three registers is quite rare in popular votive offerings, most of them only appearing on the event which gave rise to the vow and the representation of the holy intercessor or the Virgin. Illustrated in classical painting by great masters such as Titian, Philippe de Champaigne or Raphaël, the ex-voto can also be the work of the person praying himself, but it is more common to see the realization entrusted to a local specialist. Born in 1832, Jules Roméo was an active painter and decorator in Marseille from 1852 to the very end of the 19th century. Coming from a background of craftsmen, living in a very active street on the commercial level, he specializes in false wood decorations, marble work, glazing, gilding ... and painting of ex-voto . At the end of his life he will frequent a more artistic milieu of painters and photographers.


There are many occasions that give rise to the making of an ex-voto, as it involves making public a wish made during a disaster. Three categories are clearly identifiable: accident, disease and cataclysm. The latter, collective or individual, can use natural forces (fire, storm, lightning) or human (attempted homicide or, as here, war). Popular ex-votos relating to cataclysms are much rarer than those, very stereotypical, which represent a bedridden patient or a cart accident. Considering the war as a cataclysm seems here to refer to a spontaneous pacifism which contrasts with official patriotism.

  • army
  • battles
  • Catholicism
  • worship of the virgin
  • War of 1870
  • biblical character
  • ex-voto
  • Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)


Bernard COUSIN The Miracle and the everyday. Provençal votive offerings, images of a society Aix-en-Provence, 1983.

René CREUX The ex-votos tell Paris, Fontainemore-Flammarion, 1979.

Jean CUISENIER Folk art in France Friborg, Office du Livre, 1976.

Françoise LOUX "Ex-voto and popular religious life" in Ex-voto , exhibition catalog of the Pontoise museum, 1976.

Arnaud RAMIÈRE DE FORTANIER (dir.) "Les Roméo", exhibition catalog from the municipal archives Ex-voto from the Marseille region , Marseille, 1978 Michel VOVELLE and Didier LANCIEN (dir.) Iconography and history of mentalities , Proceedings of the Aix-en-Provence colloquium (June 1976), Meridional Center of Social History, Mentalities and Cultures Editions du CNRS, 1979.

To cite this article

Frédéric MAGUET, "A pacifist ex-voto"

Video: Ex-VoTo I Can See Right Through You