The golden age of the press

The golden age of the press

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  • To "The French Republic".

    GERVEX Henri (1852 - 1929)

  • The editorial staff of the Journal des Débats in 1889.

    BERAUD Jean (1849 - 1935)

To close

Title: To "The French Republic".

Author : GERVEX Henri (1852 - 1929)

Creation date : 1890

Date shown: 1890

Dimensions: Height 145 - Width 217

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.Full title: With the correction of the newspaper: the French Republic, its principal editors are grouped around the director Joseph Reinach, deputy: Challemel-Lacour, senator, president of the Senate; Waldeck-Rousseau, senator; Eugène Spuller, MP; Jules Roche,

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

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

Picture reference: 81EE494 / MV 6021

To "The French Republic".

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Blot

To close

Title: The editorial staff of the Journal des Débats in 1889.

Author : BERAUD Jean (1849 - 1935)

Creation date : 1889

Date shown: 1889

Dimensions: Height 98 - Width 115.1

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean website

Picture reference: 91EE18 / RF 1990-5

The editorial staff of the Journal des Débats in 1889.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Since the end of the Restoration, the daily press has predominated in France. 255-257)

Image Analysis

The French Republic, a newspaper founded by Gambetta in November 1871, was considered from its creation as a "serious and authorized organ of the democratic party". The daily - 15,000 copies printed in 1878 - recruited its editors from among former National Defense staff. In 1890, Joseph Reinach, who took over the direction of the newspaper in 1886, commissioned this group portrait that Gervex executed in line with the collective portraits of the 17th century (Hals, Rembrandt). Gathered in the directorial office where the effigy of Gambetta, who disappeared in 1882, sits enthroned, the editors, J. Roche, J. Reinach, E. Arène, Challemel-Lacour, Waldeck-Rousseau and E. Spuller are seized in the snapshot of their daily activities, comparing their own writings with those of Time, their most direct competitor. In the austerity of the dark costumes and the setting, the ambition of the founder of the newspaper shines through: “Mr. Gambetta recommended that we each consider each other, not as a journalist, but as a future member of the government; we had to present our ideas with the seriousness, the gravity, the maturity that suited men ready to apply them. "(Freycinet, Memories, Paris, 1912, tome.I, p. 28-29)
The large canvas by Béraud, which commemorates the centenary of the birth of Debate journal, is more lively. Bringing together all of the collaborators, around forty, including Lavisse, Ernest Renan, Hippolyte Taine, Jules Lemaître, Paul Bourget, Léon Say and Jules Dietz, the painter immortalized the ancient newsroom, unchanged since the newspaper was bought by the Bertin brothers in 1799. Tribune of conservative republicans, the Debate journal is attached to "the academic elite of the world of arts and letters". Advocating a "quality journalism", where "information is in itself less important than the commentary to which it gives rise" (C. 351), he dedicates a large part of his columns to cultural life: "The Debate journal has preserved this ancient academicism. Refined style is cultivated there. It deals especially with politics, social economy, science, literature and good classical grammar. This is a nuance journal. »(A. Pereire, 1924, p. 135)


The hearing of Debate journal remains low (6,935 copies in 1880). At the heart of the great scandals which then agitated public opinion (Panama Canal, Dreyfus affair), the chronicles remain moderate, on the fringes of the great currents of contemporary thought. Conversely, The French Republic, a newspaper designed from its inception as an instrument of propaganda, is supposed to bring together supporters of its founder's program. While major news headlines, such as Small Journal or The Little Republic - printing respectively 583,820 and 196,372 copies in 1880 - did not directly echo republican doctrines, The French Republic, whose daily circulation amounts to only 11,506 copies, is presented as a political opinion sheet - Gambetta had above all intended it to serve as a relay for the provincial newspapers, which, for their part, had retained their role of organ electoral.

  • Renan (Ernest)
  • Gambetta (Leon)
  • hurry
  • Third Republic
  • public opinion
  • propaganda
  • scandal


Henri Gervex 1852-1929, exhibition catalog, Musée Carnavalet, February 1-May 2, 1993, Paris, Paris-Musées, 1992.Claude BELLANGER, Jacques GODECHOT, Pierre GUIRAL, TERROU Fernand (dir.), General history of the French press, volume III, Paris, PUF, 1972, René de LIVOIS, History of the French press, Lausanne, Editions Spes, 1965.Alfred PEREIRE, The Journal of Political and Literary Debates 1814-1914, Paris, Edouard Champion old bookshop, 1924.

To cite this article

Emmanuelle GAILLARD, "The golden age of the press"

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