Andre Gide

Andre Gide

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Title: André Gide and his friends at the Moorish Café at the 1900 Universal Exhibition.

Author : BLANCHE Jacques Emile (1861 - 1942)

Creation date : 1901

Date shown: 1901

Dimensions: Height 156 - Width 220

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Rouen Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

Picture reference: 00EE9518 / Inv. 925 1 8

André Gide and his friends at the Moorish Café at the 1900 Universal Exhibition.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

Publication date: April 2005

Historical context

In the effervescence that characterized literary life during the Belle Époque, a young writer, André Gide (1869-1951), attracted attention with the publication in 1897 of the Earth foods, who opened up a new path in literature by celebrating the power of the senses, liberation from prohibitions and immoralism in a classic style of restraint and rigor. This self-published book, sold in a few hundred copies, did not meet with immediate success with the public - it will be the bible for several generations after the Great War - but immediately exerted a strong seduction on a few scholars who became Gide's friends.

Image Analysis

As Henri Fantin-Latour had done a few years earlier by bringing together several artists on the canvas, Jacques-Émile Blanche, a young painter and art critic close to the literary world, also son of Doctor Blanche, the famous alienist, then the idea of ​​representing André Gide with his friends. Knowing their habit of meeting in salons, theaters and cafes, Blanche stages this group portrait in the Maure cafe of the 1900 Universal Exhibition - through the window, we can see French flags and other foreign pavilions that had been erected at the Trocadéro in Paris. In fact, the painter had his models posed in his studio, and the correspondence between Blanche and Gide even reveals that it is the writer who provides the accessories for the decor - the small cups, the teapot and the tray that a young man boy is bringing -, memories of a trip made to Algeria a few years earlier. It is naturally around Gide, masterful and relaxed, dressed in a black cape and a hat, a cigarette in his hand, that the other figures in the painting are organized: from right to left, Eugène Rouart, son of the great collector Henri Rouart, elegant and discreet; Athman Ben Salah, a young Tunisian poet in a red caftan and silk turban, protected from Gide since he met him in Algeria and brought back to France; Henri Ghéon, pseudonym of Dr Vaugeon, more passionate about literature than medicine, with a lively and curious look; seated, Charles Chanvin, a poet, full of joy.

The differences in attitude chosen by the painter reflect on his part a great research into the physiognomy and especially the psychology of each of the characters and also reveal his own intuitions about them.


Himself fascinated by the writer of whom he also painted two other portraits, Jacques-Émile Blanche, as a great portrait painter of the intellectuals of the late 19th century.e century, wanted to testify here to the enthusiasm of which André Gide was the object in a small group of fervent admirers, the “circuit” according to their term, who around 1900 formulated the desire to acquire an organ to disseminate their ideas to a wider audience. Thus in 1909, André Gide with Henri Ghéon and four other writers (Marcel Drouin, André Ruyters, Jacques Copeau and Jean Schlumberger) founded The New French Revue, whose success was confirmed two years later by the creation of a publishing house entrusted to Gaston Gallimard. For nearly a century, the NRF has emerged as a veritable literary institution with which the greatest of literature, art and thought have been associated.

  • writers
  • Universal exhibitions
  • literature
  • portrait
  • Gide (André)


Auguste ANGLES, André Gide and the first group of La Nouvelle Revue française, Paris, Gallimard, 1978. Jean-Pierre de BEAUMARCHAIS, Daniel CONTY and Alain REY, Dictionary of French Literature, Paris, Bordas, 1994.Pierre HEBEY, The NRF Spirit, 1908-1940, Paris, Gallimard, 1990.Géraldi LEROY and Julie BERTRAND-SABIANI, Literary life during the Belle Époque, Paris, PUF, 1998 François NOURISSIER, A century NRF, Paris, Gallimard, 2000. Michel WINOCK, The Century of Intellectuals, Paris, Le Seuil, 1999. Catalog Jacques-Émile Blanche, Rouen-Paris, Museum of Fine Arts-RMN, 1997-1998.

To cite this article

Fleur SIOUFFI, "André Gide"



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