The intimate alliance of France and Russia

The intimate alliance of France and Russia

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  • Nicolas II Museum.

  • President's trip to Russia.

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Title: Nicolas II Museum.

Author :

Creation date : 1893

Date shown: 1893

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Advertising card for the Nicolas II Museum (28 Bd Poissonnière)

Storage location: Boucher de Perthes Museum website

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

Picture reference: 10-515599

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

To close

Title: President's trip to Russia.

Author :

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Trip of President Félix Faure.Registration: President's trip to Russia, Kronstadt. Distribution of teas and samovars to French sailors. August 24, 1897 "

Storage location: Boucher de Perthes Museum website

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

Picture reference: 10-514818

President's trip to Russia.

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

Publication date: January 2011

Historical context

The Franco-Russian alliance seen through advertising cards: between information, publicity and history

Distributed in large quantities to customers (most often during their purchases), advertising cards flourished at the end of the 19th century.e century. However, most of them offer less direct advertising: while mentioning the "brand" they are promoting, the images represent, most often in series, various themes borrowed from history, geography and some. events (such as world exhibitions). And little by little, it is also certain contemporary facts that are evoked, as is the case with the advertising cards devoted to the Franco-Russian alliance sealed in 1892.

At the same time commercial, financial (with the launch of the famous Russian loans in 1888), military (with the 1891 convention finally ratified in 1894) and political, this alliance results from the rapprochement operated since the 1880s between the Republic and the Tsars Alexander III then Nicolas II (from 1896). It is reflected in many diplomatic events, such as the visit of the Russian fleet to Toulon in 1893, on the occasion of which the “Nicolas II Museum” card was published, or even the visit of President Félix Faure to Russia. in August 1897, mentioned by the card "President's trip to Russia".

Image Analysis

The Franco-Russian alliance: marriage and honeymoon

While it is part of the celebrations of the Franco-Russian alliance, the "Nicolas II Museum" advertising card also serves to promote the Nicolas II Museum, founded in 1893 by the publicist Philippe Deschamps. It depicts two women exchanging "the kiss of the covenant", each of whom symbolizes her country. France appears on the right to the viewer in the guise of a sort of Marianne, traditionally draped and wearing a spike which recalls both republican symbols and France's agricultural vocation. Russia is also signified by its own attributes: on the clothes of the woman on the left appear the eagle of the imperial family and the cross, the two emblems of the Russian Empire.

Closely entwined, the two women are about to kiss under a shawl, Russian style, to celebrate the alliance of their countries. The national flags (Russian under the French, French under the Russian) and the laurels of victory frame a group of soldiers including French infantry (typical blue jacket and red pants) and Russian and French cavalry (helmets and uniforms officers from both countries).

The “President's trip to Russia” advertising card belongs to a series that represents all the stages and all the highlights of Félix Faure's trip to Russia. It was published by the Aiguebelle chocolate factory, a firm which, like many others, thus ensured its publicity. The inscription "Kronstadt. Distribution of Tea and Samovars to French Sailors. August 24, 1897 "specifies the nature and date of the event represented through simple and classic iconography for the prints of the time. The scene takes place in the hold of an armored warship, recognizable by its riveted metallic structure: wearing their berets with red pompoms, French sailors in uniform unpack carefully crated samovars. A bundle of tea is waiting, placed on the ground. Smiles and cheers greet the arrival of elegant Russian diplomats who have come to present their gifts and tributes. Seen from behind in the foreground, the French naval officer who welcomes them in this festive atmosphere also lifts his cap.


The Franco-Russian alliance in symbols

In both countries (and particularly in France), this alliance, however unnatural, between an autocratic and religious regime and a secular republic is genuinely popular and arouses widely shared enthusiasm. In unison with newspapers and public opinion, the “Nicolas II Museum” and “President's Trip to Russia” cards celebrate this friendship without reservations, and their advertising vocation places the presented subject all the more strongly among the positive events. and happy. The cross and the eagle of the tsars visible on the map "Nicholas II Museum" thus only signify Russia, without implying anything negative. If they suggest the alliance in a spirit and a rather similar iconography, the two images do however show some differences.

The “Nicolas II Museum” card gives a large place to the two beautiful women who embody their respective countries. But, under this peaceful allegory of the alliance, it also reserves a space in which its military dimension is illustrated, evoked in a manner that is both discreet and solemn. In a rather stark contrast between the near-sensuality of this "kiss of the alliance" on the one hand and the orderly and compact group of soldiers intermingled on the other, she suggests possible common fights. Represented with the gravity befitting of great events, the union of countries, their armies and their symbols thus seems total and already belongs to history.

Unlike the first card which uses strong and timeless symbols, “President's trip to Russia” evokes the alliance through one of its concrete manifestations, here Faure's visit to the sailors of Kronstadt, and the famous "Friendship". Thus, Russia (the port) welcomes France (the battleship, its men) which, in turn, welcomes within it (the hold, small and intimate) Russia (symbolized by the tea and the samovar , embodied by diplomats). With a close-up effect on a selected news item, "President's Trip to Russia" underlines the already historic significance of an event that signifies and brings the alliance to life.

  • Franco-Russian alliance
  • Presidency of the Republic
  • Russia
  • Third Republic
  • Faure (Felix)
  • publicity
  • Nicholas II (Tsar)
  • Alexander III (tsar)


Marc MARTIN, Three centuries of advertising in France, Paris, O. Jacob, 1992. 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.Michael TWYMAN, Color images, Godefroy Engelmann, Charles Hullmandel and the beginnings of chromolithography, Paris-Lyon, Editions du Panama-Museum of Printing, 2007.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The intimate alliance of France and Russia"

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