Franco-Russian diplomatic relations at the end of the 19th centurye century

Franco-Russian diplomatic relations at the end of the 19th century<sup>e</sup> century

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  • Visit of Tsar Nicolas II to France, October 1896.

    ANONYMOUS

  • Laying of the first stone of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.

    ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

  • Official visit of Russian sovereigns to France in 1901.

    DAWANT Albert Pierre (1852 - 1923)

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Title: Visit of Tsar Nicolas II to France, October 1896.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown: October 1896

Dimensions: Height 24 - Width 24

Technique and other indications: Color engraving.

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

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - El Melianisite web

Picture reference: 75-000452 / invgravures2297

Visit of Tsar Nicolas II to France, October 1896.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - El Meliani

To close

Title: Laying of the first stone of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.

Author : ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

Creation date : 1899

Date shown: 07 October 1896

Dimensions: Height 497 - Width 320

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.Full title: Laying of the first stone of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris by Tsar Nicolas II, the Empress and the President of the Republic Félix Faure, on October 7, 1896.

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

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

Picture reference: 77-000132 / MV5571

Laying of the first stone of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

To close

Title: Official visit of Russian sovereigns to France in 1901.

Author : DAWANT Albert Pierre (1852 - 1923)

Date shown: September 21, 1901

Dimensions: Height 209 - Width 356

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.Full title: Official visit of Russian sovereigns to France in 1901 - the President of the Republic Emile Loubet welcoming Tsar Nicolas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna during the military review at the Bétheny camp, September 21, 1901.

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

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 93-000802 / MV5649

Official visit of Russian sovereigns to France in 1901.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Publication date: June 2006

Historical context

The Franco-Russian alliance, a success for republican diplomacy

In the last third of the XIXe century, humiliated by the defeat of Sedan in 1870, but now a republic, France gradually turned to colonial expansion - pushed in this by Bismarck himself. In the meantime, Prussian Germany forged solid diplomatic and military alliances with Austria-Hungary, then with Italy: the Triple Alliance was sealed in 1882. It thus managed to overtake France economically and threatened the dominant position of Great Britain, both industrially and commercially.

Traditionally, Russia, an autocratic empire led by the Romanov family, has turned to Prussia, its economic model. In 1896, Nicolas II succeeded his father, whose international policy he continued and amplified.

Image Analysis

The official visits of Tsar Nicholas II to France

The engraving depicting the 1896 visit is striking with its complex composition, which leaves a large rectangle in the center blank. Is this a cartridge intended for comment from the newspaper that published this image? The diagonal arrangement is original and highlights the vignette where Tsar Nicolas II, the Czarina and the President of the Republic Félix Faure are represented in a sort of royal box under a canopy of silk and velvet surmounted by the own heraldry. to each of the two nations. The text unhesitatingly associates the initials RF ("French Republic") and the alliance between Russia and France. The other vignettes illustrate the highlights of the Tsar's visit to France: his landing in Cherbourg, on the left, accompanied by the flagships of the French navy; on the right, the triumphal procession on the Champs-Élysées in Paris; below, the military review at the Châlons camp. In each, we find the same flags, the troops, the compact crowd.

Alfred Roll, a naturalist painter for a time close to Zola, logically placed Tsar Nicolas II, Tsarina Alexandra Fedorovna and President of the Republic Faure, easily recognizable, on the strong diagonal that crosses his canvas. Between the black suits of the officials, the red hangings of this new "Gold Cloth camp" and the whiteness of the young girls officiating here, like vestals of the New Alliance, the contrast is striking. In the background, there are a few trees that vaguely situate the scene, as well as a crane that symbolizes the work to come. The laying of the first stone, understandably, is only a pretext for the meeting between the two nations, represented by their flags fluttering in the wind. While the scene takes place in October in Paris, the tones and general dynamics tend to connote spring. That of a regained diplomatic power?

In contrast, the canvas painted by Albert-Pierre Dawant, which depicts the Czar's visit in 1901, is sober, both in terms of color and composition. However, the painter emphasizes the concrete aspect of the alliance by letting the earth appear widely, marked with traces of wagons. The central third of the canvas, finally, is the field of expression of the real nature of the alliance, above all military: the Empress, who stands out between heaven and earth, is the only woman represented. The men, for the most part, are officers - starting with the Tsar himself, decked out in medals. In the foreground on the left, in front of the carriage, driven by a French soldier, Algerian spahis; behind the carriage a Cossack officer.

Interpretation

The gold of the Republic in the service of the nation in danger

The engraving and the two canvases show the continuity of the alliance policy led by the successive presidents of the French Republic. The visits of Tsar Nicholas II to France are the subject of a spectacular organization, combined with a public opinion campaign in the press which explains the triumphal reception given to the Emperor by the French population. Once the secret negotiations are concluded, the leaders of the French nation do not hesitate to return to a policy of pomp worthy of the Ancien Régime, to show the strength of the new alliance. On both sides, symbolic acts are multiplied: the Alexandre III bridge, which spans the Seine and combines the arms of Paris and the Neva, is from this point of view quite emblematic. Inaugurated with great fanfare in 1900 at the Universal Exhibition, its meaning is understood by no one. The profound differences in nature between the autocratic regime and the Republic resulting from the Revolution of 1789 are cleverly concealed under the essentially military aspect of the alliance. The urgent need for France to break its diplomatic isolation coincides with the important capital needs of the Russian state.

From 1888 to 1913, several "Russian" loans, totaling 12 billion gold francs, were issued to French savers with the blessing of the public authorities, which increased the incentives for savers. Between 1899 and 1905, however, the tone changed: diplomacy, embellished by young girls, gave way to preparation for war, a man's business.

  • Franco-Russian alliance
  • Presidency of the Republic
  • Russia
  • Third Republic
  • Loubet (Emile)
  • Faure (Felix)
  • Romanov (dynasty of)
  • Nicholas II (Tsar)
  • Alexander III (tsar)
  • cranes

Bibliography

A tsar in Compiègne, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée de Compiègne, September 29, 2001 - January 14, 2002, Paris, RMN, 2001. René GIRAULT, Russian loans and French investments in Russia, 1887-1914, Paris, Committee for the Economic and Financial History of France, 1999. Jean-Marie MAYEUR, The Beginnings of the Third Republic, 1871-1898, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points", 1973.Pierre RENOUVIN, History of international relations, volume VI “1871-1914”, Paris, Hachette, 1955.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Franco-Russian diplomatic relations at the end of the XIXe century "


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