Paul Déroulède delivers a speech to Bougival. January 1913

Paul Déroulède delivers a speech to Bougival. January 1913

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Title: Paul Déroulède delivers a speech to Bougival. January 1913.

Author : CORMON Fernand (1845 - 1924)

Creation date : 1913

Date shown: January 1913

Dimensions: Height 190 - Width 136

Technique and other indications: Paul Déroulede giving a speech in front of the monument in memory of the painter Henri Regnault, in Buzenval near Rueil-Malmaison in January 1913 Oil on canvas

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

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

Picture reference: 94DE59696 / MV 5734

Paul Déroulède delivers a speech to Bougival. January 1913.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Founder of the League of Patriots in 1882, supporter of General Boulanger, Déroulède, who had fought in 1870 and had participated in the repression against the Commune, was the leader of a revenge and cockardier nationalism, going so far as to attempt to destabilize the republican parliamentarism. Sentenced to ten years of banishment in 1900, he settled in Spain and did not return to France until after the 1905 amnesty law.
Without hostility at the start for the republic, Déroulède gradually evolved towards anti-parliamentarism, which he alone considered capable of going beyond the narrow framework of the parties, which he held responsible for the defeat of 1870. However, that was the time. where the Gaul was glorified against Germain, in particular at school.

Image Analysis

Returning from his exile, Déroulède resumed his activities as tribune. Each year, the nationalists gathered in Bougival in front of the monument to the dead of the war of 1870, a veritable pilgrimage aimed at raising the morale of the French. In this circumstance, we evoked the memory of Henri Regnault (1843-1871), young talented painter killed in action in Bougival against the Prussians, January 19, 1871. It is the ceremony of 1913 that Cormon, artist of patriotic tendency marked, especially famous for his "prehistoric" paintings in the style of The fire war de Rosny elder, depicted in this painting. Behind the speaker, we see the monument topped with the bust of Regnault, covered with wreaths of flowers and surrounded by flags. Déroulède delivers a fiery speech, a year before the declaration of war on Germany. Rather than painting a portrait, Cormon captured the nationalist orator: Déroulède speaks, showing with a vengeful finger the direction to follow - that indicated by French flags fluttering in the wind to the right. It is the voice of France - a nationalist France - that the artist wanted to represent. The tribune stands like a preacher, and, dressed in a long mourning cloak that makes it monolithic, he leans on a funeral drape while looking at the spectator from the front, but this solid image slowly slides towards the raised finger that accompany the banners. The painter's vibrant touch and the national colors bring hope in revenge: black becomes color and continues by transfiguring itself outside the painting, as if the time was coming to start the war against Germany again, as if to prove it right. in Déroulède, true prophet of nationalism.


Among the late portraits of the classical school of painting, this is certainly one of the best. Above all, it has the merit of representing a character whose political opinions and ideology have since been castigated and as if forbidden in the name of ideals inherited from 1789, presented as unavoidable and marking the "end of history". Few of the portraits show figures of the most extreme tendency of the political right. The acceptance of the donation to the State of this portrait could only be done in a very specific context. In 1914, the conditions were met to allow this acquisition: all the French could finally recognize themselves in Déroulède, to whom the war had come to prove reason. Death thus gave the politician national stature.

  • anti-parliamentarianism
  • tricolour flag
  • nationalism
  • portrait
  • Third Republic
  • speaker


Antoine de BAEQUE "The poet of revenge" in The story n ° 152, January 1992.Raoul GIRARDET, French Nationalism Anthology: 1871-1914 Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1983.Bertrand JOLY Paul Déroulède: at the origins of French nationalism Paris, Perrin, 1998.Michel WINOCK Nationalism, anti-Semitism and fascism in France Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1990.

To cite this article

Jérémie BENOÎT, “Paul Déroulède gives a speech at Bougival. January 1913 »

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