Philippe Pétain, Marshal of France

Philippe Pétain, Marshal of France

Philippe Pétain, Marshal of France.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Pétain was promoted to general in August 1914 - he was 58 at the time. The defeat of May-June 1940 was to demonstrate relentlessly that these conceptions were lagging behind.

Image Analysis

« Of Monsieur Devambez, two remarkable portraits, that of Mr. Jacques Baschet, surprisingly physiognomic, and that of Marshal Pétain, of surprising relief and authority ", Noted Guillaume Janneau in" La peinture au Salon "(The Revue of Ancient and Modern Art, June-December 1932). Devambez took photos and pochades which he used for the painting, also helped by his brother-in-law Albert Lacomme who donned the marshal's tunic for the occasion. The latter is presented from the front, on a light background. He is standing with his hands clasped behind his back, dressed in a uniform of relentless monotony. His gaze is slightly smirk, the mustache pulled up to the right. The impact of such a portrait here lies in this demonstration of authority by the artist, strongly perceived by the critics of the 1932 Salon.


Commissioned by the State from an official artist, this portrait perpetuated the tradition of works intended for the historic galleries of Versailles where the academicism rejuvenated by fashion did not deceive the amateur. At the time of his creation, Pétain was indeed the last survivor of the great leaders of the First World War and enjoyed great popularity with a majority of French people who saw him as the "victor of Verdun". Some even wanted him to come to power, such as Gustave Hervé, who in 1935 declared: "We need Pétain! In the deep dismay of the defeat of 1940, Pétain then emerged as the providential man, obtaining the full powers of a large majority of parliamentarians. Today, man embodies above all the Vichy regime and the policy of collaboration pursued since October 1940 with Hitler's Germany.

  • army
  • War of 14-18
  • marshals
  • portrait
  • collaboration
  • Vichy regime
  • Petain (Philippe)
  • military strategy
  • War of 39-45


Pierre VALLAUD, 14-18, World War I, volumes I and II, Paris, Fayard, 2004. Claire CONSTANS National Museum of the Palace of Versailles: Paintings 2 vol., Paris, RMN, 1995.Marc FERRO Pétain Paris, Fayard, 1987.Gilles HEURÉ Gustave Hervé: The Path of a Provocateur Paris, The Discovery, 1997.Pierre SERVENT Le Mythe Pétain: Verdun or the trenches of memory Paris, Payot, 1992.

To cite this article

Barthélemy JOBERT and Pascal TORRÈS, "Philippe Pétain, Marshal of France"

Video: French General Marshal Petain is found guilty and sentenced to death for treason..HD Stock Footage