Jaurès at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais
Responsable de la documentation et des archives au Musée de l'histoire vivante de Montreuil

From photograph to icon

The Lascaux cave paintings, Picasso’s Guernica, Robert Capa’s falling soldier, Marc Riboud’s photo of a young student with a flower defying the rifles of the US National Guard in front of the Pentagon on October 21, 1967, that of a young naked girl fleeing the Napalm bombardment of Vietnam on June 8, 19721 , the TV images and then the photos of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, those of “tank man” on Tienanmen Square in 1989 – all these images are now part of the collective memory of the citizens of a connected world. In the history of the French Republic too, certain images have more evocative power than others. Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, for instance, which has come to symbolize the Republic, and whose two main figures, Liberty – since assimilated to Marianne – and the boy combatant, Gavroche, have gone on to have lives of their own2 . More recently, one could think of the photo of De Gaulle sitting before a microphone in London on June 18, 1940, or that of François Mitterrand holding a rose at the Panthéon in May 1981.

Affiche exposition Jaurès contemporain, 2014

Poster of the Jaurès contemporain exhibition, 2014.

The collection of documents on display in the Jaurès contemporain exhibition, held at the Panthéon in 2014, showed that, ever since his assassination in 1914, the great Socialist orator has always been present, to varying degrees, in the debates animating the left and French society more generally. Images play a major part in this national memory, a construct that is maintained and added to. Visitors arriving at the Panthéon were greeted by a large-format reproduction of Branger’s famous photograph, taken on May 25, 1913, at a meeting protesting against the three-year law, which sought to add an additional year to military service. For the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (the SFIO, the forerunner of the French Parti Socialiste) and its leader, Jean Jaurès, such a step only added to the risk of war. Branger photographed the rostrum from a distance. Above an immense crowd Jaurès grasps the pole of an unfurled red flag, the full force of his conviction clear to see.

This photo has since become iconic, and is no doubt one of the most frequently used images of Jaurès nowadays, but this was not always the case. Several photojournalists were present that day, and Jaurès was photographed at various moments during his speech. So why this particular image? Where and when was it published for the first time? What does it tell us about Jaurès? How has it been reused? Why has it stuck in our minds and taken precedence over others? Why and when did it become iconic? What can it tell us about the use of images in a world awash in pictures? Before answering these questions, the constituent parts of the image need contextualizing, for they have been interpreted in different ways depending on the period of the viewer3 .

Jean Jaurès at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, on May, 25th, 1913 by Maurice-Louis Branger.

The left’s symbols and images

 This photo is a visual representation of Jaurès. The gesture and attitude depicted coincide with the mental image people have of Jaurès the orator. It is also one of the images that could be used to illustrate Jaurès the pacifist4 . The various photos, paintings, drawings, and caricatures emphasize the range of representations associated with Jean Jaurès: the martyr for peace, the pacifist, the republican, the great orator, the socialist, the unifier of the socialists, the philosopher, or for his adversaries – particularly as shown in caricatures – the demagogue, the traitor, and the ‘Boche’.

Le Petit Journal, 22 juin 1913

Le Petit Journal, June 22, 1913, one month after the meeting at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, “Souvenez-vous donc !”. Marianne exhorts remembrance, alluding to the loss of Alsace during the 1870 war against Prussia, here symbolized by Strasbourg Cathedral in ruins.

These iconographic representations need to be placed in the universe whence they come if we are to properly understand them.

Images – just like symbols (flags, colors, emblems, logos, and songs) – play an important part in the history of the left, as well as in protest movements and the culture of organizations. They build up links between peoples and identify political families. Understanding the genealogy of these images and symbols can inform us about the state of the group that has produced, mobilized, or abandoned them5 .

These images of Jaurès – those that still speak to us today – are part of socialist history and culture. 

The French Republic has its tricolor flag, its motto, its anthem, its embodiment in the figure of Marianne, or the Sower, or the Gallic rooster, all examples of what Pierre Nora has called “sites of memory”. From 1848 onwards, the “reds”, together with the libertarians and anarchists, have built up their own symbolic universe, a mix of revolutionary and republican culture. This cultural syncretism still exists today, though in fainter form. Let us briefly examine the left’s main objects and how they have changed over time: 

  • a red flag6 ;
  • an anthem, Pottier and Degeyter’s The Internationale, and then since 1977, for the socialists, Changer la vie7 , together with a re-appropriation of La Marseillaise since the 1980s;
  • the songs accompanying the labor movement: Le temps des cerisesGloire au 17eLa jeune garde (culture communiste), Bandera rossa, Au devant de la vie;
  • its mottos, slogans, and watchwords: “prolétaire de tous les pays” (workers of all the world), “Pain, paix, liberté” (bread, peace, freedom), “changer la vie” (change life), “Nos vies valent plus que leur profit” (our lives are worth more than their profits), and “l’humain d’abord” (people come first);
  • its great historical moments: the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the 19th-century revolutions, the Paris Commune, the Front Populaire, May 10, 1981; 
  • its pantheon of great men (plus a few women) to have marked French history: Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre, Danton, Saint-Just, Proudhon, Louise Michel, Guesde, Jaurès, Vaillant, Blum, Mendès France, Mitterrand;
  • its insignia and logos: for the various communist formations, the hammer and sickle; for the socialists, the image of a rising sun with Marianne as a working woman (as opposed to the bourgeois Marianne), then the three arrows, and nowadays the fist and rose; 
  • its flower (the dog rose, wild rose, lily of the valley, and then the rose since the 1970s).

These symbols form the left’s collective memory. Flicking through the left’s illustrated albums shows how evocative and emotive they are. These images identify, illustrate, and characterize events that they bring to life. They are faithful and seductive, yet highly reductive. Photography holds a special place within this imaginary, for it brings groups together and reflects shared identities. Photography may also mislead if cropped, edited, colored, or taken out of context. A shot only reconstitutes a part of reality, and being technically imprisoned within its framing and focal length only presents the photographer’s viewpoint. Lastly, it should be remembered that once printed, sold, and published, a photo may well be cropped and a caption added, either to relay the photographer’s message or else to interpret or distort it. Photos thus need analyzing and deciphering with the rigor used when working with archival material. 

Maurice-Louis Branger, a photojournalist at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, May 25, 1913

On May 25, 1913, the SFIO held a protest against the three-year law at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, a municipality where it had recently won control of the town hall8 .The call to demonstrate and final recommendations from the organizers (the Seine Socialist Federation) were printed on the back page of that day’s edition of L’Humanité, the socialist newspaper run by Jaurès. No fewer than fourteen platforms were set up on the hill known as the Butte Rouge9 , on each of which four or five speakers were programmed to address the crowd for up to fifteen minutes. Although accounts of the meeting rarely mention it, five women pacifists and socialist activists also spoke that day10 . They were of no interest to the photographers.

A crowd of nearly 4000 people gathered around the platform where Jaurès was due to speak11 . Just prior to going up onto the platform, Jaurès, wearing his tricolor sash, had listened to his comrade and friend Paul Renaudel, assistant editor on L’Humanité, and then the deputy for the Seine, Arthur Groussier, followed by a railwayman by the name of Toulouse who had been fired after the 1910 strikes. All three remained sitting in the cart used as a platform and listened to Jaurès, as caught for eternity by the photographer Maurice-Louis Branger (1874-1950)12 . While Jaurès spoke, Branger took fifteen photos of him13 . One of them was the distance shot that went on to become iconic14 , symbolizing that day’s events and Jaurés’s action15 .

Returning to Branger’s coverage of that day, the series of shots he took allows us to trace his steps around the Butte Rouge. For though the iconic photo was taken from a distance so as to provide a wide shot of the speaker and crowds, the other fourteen we have examined were taken from the foot of the platform and centered on Jaurès in low-angle shots. Observing this set of photos brings out the particular attention Branger paid to Jaurès’s movements and gestures. Apparently captivated by his energy, he sought to catch his movements, providing a snapshot of his gestures and gaze. It is as if he were seeking to freeze and reproduce Jaurès’s poses, depicted by sketchers, painters, and caricaturists such as Léandre and Éloy-Vincent, who endeavored to seize the extraordinary range of attitudes Jaurès could convey16 . By 1913 the verbal and gestural talents of the “great orator” were well known. Jaurès was a good photographic subject.

Charles Léandre : Jaurès à La Tribune.

Jaurès à la tribune, sketches by Charles Léandre (1903).

The cameras of the period were now capable of freezing instants, provided the photographer perfectly mastered the technique (stabilizing the equipment, gauging the light, selecting viewing angles, assessing the sensitivity of the photographic plate) and had a feeling for the moment. In shooting several phases of Jaurès’s address, Branger built up a sequence that is virtually cinematic. These fifteen images tell the story from the moment Jaurès stepped onto the platform to his apotheosis as the man above the crowd, both dominating and forming one with it. Grasping the billowing red flag, Jaurès is leaning slightly forward, as if he wanted to speak into the ear of each listener come to hear him denounce a law that was threatening the peace. His upper arm stretched out and fingertips pressed together form a triangle, an arrowhead, symbolizing the socialist leader’s characteristic determination. For his supporters he was a teacher seeking to win over by force of argument, explanation of the facts, and rigorous analysis. There is nothing of the demagogue or diaphanous political leader about him. Branger was there to seize Jaurès in action. His photos became the definitive representation of the event, especially as there is no film nor sound archive of this speech. 

Let us rapidly situate this photo among the larger set of photos of contemporary socialists.

Chambre photographique de voyage

A 19th-century photographic chamber, held at Toulouse Museum.

The price of equipment, together with the conditions for taking and developing photos, meant that in the late nineteenth century photography was still restricted to professionals and a small circle of amateurs. However, by the Belle-Époque it was starting to be taken up more widely. Technical advances now made it possible to produce pictures rapidly – in less than a day as of 1910 – and photos were becoming a very popular means of propaganda, advertising, and way of illustrating family events, demonstrations, and party conventions. In 1912 socialist convention-goers were able to buy souvenir cards of their national gathering17 . These photographic postcards were better than engravings or drawings, and helped to make the faces of socialist leaders known to the people18 .

Going to the photographer became a rite for families wishing to send news to acquaintances, friends, and relatives. Henri Manuel was one of the first photographers to build up a clientele of politicians, while Nadar established his more artistic renown in the world of culture, even though politicians were also keen to come and pose in his studio.

Photography was progressing, but, other than identity portraits, the vast majority of images diffused by the SFIO were of crowds. Photographers snapped impersonal groups of activists in the open air, on demonstrations, in convention rooms, or on leaving a meeting. These were the images the socialist press promoted to illustrate political events. In her study of photos published in L’Humanitébefore 1914, Annick Bonnet notes that only three of the thirteen were portraits. At the 1907 convention, apart from two portraits (of Guesde and Bracke), all the photos show rooms, delegates leaving, or demonstrations. Few show the convention platform or speakers. Nor did L’Humanitéplace its director in the limelight. The editors chose rather to show the mass making up the party, with the SFIO depicted in its activist collegiality. The Encyclopédie socialiste19  by Compère-Morel contains reproductions of convention postcards illustrating the great moments in the life of the party. Many volumes have identity photos of political and administrative leaders, journalists, and elected SFIO politicians, but none of the leaders in action or on the platform.

The destiny of one photo: from the front page to oblivion and back again

Jaurès au Pré-Saint-Gervais, 1913

Document 1: L'Humanité, May, 26, 1913. Maurice Louis Branger's photograph appears on the front page, in the center, in a smaller size than the two others directly beneath the headline. 

Document 2: L'Illustration, May, 31, 1913.

Document 3: Cover of Marcelle Auclair's book, La Vie de Jaurès.


Let us return to Branger and L’HumanitéGiven the context, the role photos played in the party political press at that time, and the editorial choices of L’Humanité, it is not surprising that our photo shared the front page on May 26 with four others (document 1). It is not given any particular prominence, and even comes third, beneath two other shots showing the dense crowd gathered at the meeting the day before, published side-by-side across three columns. The banner headline “Barthou est-il satisfait?” (Is Barthou satisfied?) is followed by the subtitle “150 000 manifestants au Pré-Saint-Gervais” (150,000 demonstrators at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais), with these two photos as proof (the caption insists on “the demonstration at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais”)20 . The photo of Jaurès is published unaltered, across two columns, and slightly cropped (with the top two thirds of the flag out of the frame), in a smaller panoramic format than the original press print Branger doubtless sold to the editorial board of the socialist newspaper21  (as he no doubt offered his set of images to other newspapers that turned down this one). Underneath, on single columns, are the portraits of two other speakers, Brustlein, a Swiss federal councilor (to demonstrate the event’s international character) and Marcel Sembat, deputy for the Seine. Pride of place is given to the crowd, the people gathered there, with Jaurès being one of the speakers present – albeit a speaker named on the front page, accompanied by his photograph, no doubt because he was the most important. But without excessive deference.

One week later, on May 31, the same photo appeared in the large circulation magazine L’Illustration (document 2). This time, however, it was cropped to focus on Jaurès, and used to illustrate an article denouncing the protests against the three-year law22 , with the image accompanied by a wholly unambiguous caption: “the demagogue”. The framing might suggest a desire to glorify the subject, but the political line of the magazine and content of the article rule out any such hypothesis. It is a matter of showing an isolated, aggressive man beneath the halo of a red flag (which invasively fills the frame in this cropped version), coloring the demagogic words of the socialist deputy. The crowd has disappeared, only a manipulator remains.

Our research has not turned up any other instances of this photo being used in the press in the weeks following the event or over the course of the following years. The articles published when Jaurès was assassinated and to mark the first anniversary of his death were illustrated solely with portraits and drawings, or else with other photographs (mainly posed portraits by Nadar, Henri Manuel, Branger, or else a 1911 photo taken at Montevideo). In 1916, the newspaper Les Hommes du jour published a photo by Branger of the May 25, 1913 meeting, but it was one of the low-angle shots from the foot of the platform. Equally, on November 23, 1924, when Jaurès was being transferred to the Panthéon, the Cartel des gauches newspaper, Le Quotidien, published two other photos from Branger’s coverage at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais23 .

The first occasion we know of when the iconic image was reused dates from 1954, on the cover of Marcelle Auclair’s biography, La vie de Jaurès24  (document 3). It was in fact the cropped version of the photo published in L’Illustration, but this time associated with a positive vision of the subject, relaying his “pacifist” creed, thereby showing how a given photo may be used in very different ways25 . In 1957 a school manual contained a color drawing of Jaurès speaking, but transposed to a mine in the Tarn with slag heaps and winches in the background. He is shown addressing a public of miners, hence of “workers”, but without any red flag (perhaps due to the school context), and wearing the tricolor sash that marks him out as a deputy. Nevertheless, what the authors of this popular image have focused on is the gesture and what it evokes.

Ten years later, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, the SFIO’s national weekly, Démocratie 64, reproduced the photo, choosing to crop even more closely on Jaurès, cutting the red flag in half. That same year, the historians Annie Kriegel and Jean-Jacques Becker brought out their book 1914, la guerre et le mouvement ouvrier français26 , with a photo taken on May 25, 1913 on one of the first pages. However, it was dated as 1912, as it also was in the catalogue published by the Musée Jean-Jaurès in Castres to mark the centenary of his birth in 1959. These approximations suggest that the Le Pré-Saint-Gervais demonstration did not yet hold a sufficiently important place in the collective memory for the photos documenting it to be well-known and identified. To the best of our knowledge, this dating error was not reproduced in the very many centenary publications in 2014, nearly all of which used the iconic photo this time round.

Couverture Historia 1969
Couverture Le Nouvel Observateur, 2010

Document 4 : Cover of the magazine Historia published in 1969.

Document 5 : Cover of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur  published in 2010.

In 1969 the photo was promoted to the cover of the magazine Historia to illustratea dossier called “Jean Jaurès et l’Internationale”. The flag and the Phrygian caps on the poles of the two other flags attached to the makeshift platform were colored red, with the speaker being left in black and white27 . In the early 1970s the image was being rediscovered. Sometimes the flag was recolored, and the image solarized, in tune with the aesthetic criteria of the editors of the period (documents 4 and 5).

  In 1984 it was the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) that took up this photo to use on the cover of a Bulletin de propagande et d’information, in a bold montage designed by the Grapus communications agency. This large-format publication presented a full-page illustration of two repeating motifs, a blue triangle containing the photo of Jaurès at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, alternating with rectangles in the form of TV screens showing the face of the PCF’s then general secretary, Georges Marchais. 

The next year, the Société de bibliologie et de schématisation published Jaurès et ses images. The photo appeared on the cover, in the cropped version first used by L’Illustration. The commentary briefly noted that it was the “most widespread shot”, but of what28 ?

Couverture Mémoires de France, Jacques-Louis Delpal; Julliard Claire, Editions de la Martinière.

Document 6 : Cover of Jacques-Louis Delpal and Claire Julliard's book, Mémoires de France published by Éditions de la Martinière in 1998.

In 1991, a media milestone was reached with its publication on the cover of a literary and photographic anthology, Mémoires de France (Éditions de la Martinière) (document 6), with the reframing giving the impression that this fleeting moment lasted an eternity. This 1991 publication did not give the name of the photographer once again. Still, Branger’s photograph was becoming well-known.

The meaning and usages of an iconic image

The change in this photo’s status may be dated to the 1990s. That was when it became an emblematic image. Additional evidence of this was given in 1994, when the Société d’études jaurésiennes chose it to illustrate the cover of its quarterly Cahiers, to mark the eightieth anniversary of Jaurès’s assassination (retaining it on the cover until the publication was redesigned in 1997). By now it embodied the assassinated orator. It imposed its presence by the symbols it reunited – the red flag, the amassed crowd, the sky above and earth below, the martyr, the man above the crowd, and the apostles at his feet.

Première de couverture de La parole et l'acte de Madeleine Rébérioux

Document 7 : Cover of Madeleine Rébérioux's book Jaurès. La Parole et l'acte.

That same year the president of the Société, Madeleine Rebérioux, was readily convinced to publish a colored and very closely cropped version of the photo on the cover of her Jaurès. La parole et l’acte29 (document 7).

The flag is in red, as is the tricolor sash that Jaurès wore that day, like all the elected politicians at the meeting. Rebérioux is an undisputed Jaurès specialist and chose, or at least tolerated, to present him in revolutionary garb, with the coloring presenting a more radical interpretation of his life. Is this alteration merely a matter of marketing, to simplify or clarify how to read this image30 ?

After this first instance of the sash being recolored, different versions were produced opposing those who saw Jaurès as a socialist and republican (with a tricolor sash) and those who wished to emphasize his socialist and revolutionary commitment, despite his having always ruled out this latter option, choosing to present himself as a reformer. In 2005, in its centenary year, the Parti socialiste followed suit in venturing to reinterpret history, recuperating Jaurès for its electoral campaign supporting the EU Constitutional Treaty, with a poster on which Jaurès’s red flag has been replaced by the stars of a European Union banner. Further examples could be given of the way the image has been manipulated and diverted from its original meaning. The same is true of Jaurès’s hand gesture, that of a teacher, fingertips touching in the act of demonstration, yet sometimes reinterpreted as a raised fist to emphasize his words to the crowd31 . This anachronism – the raised fist only became a left-wing gesture in the 1930s – is ultimately not that important. It is precisely all these reframings, colorings, and reinterpretations which endow this image with its status as an “icon”.

Nowadays the many users of the photo clearly wish to celebrate Jaurès the pacifist. The context and event act as proof. This meeting against the three-year law, one year before the eruption of World War I, was clearly part of Jaurès’s combat to ward off the threat of war. It is but a short step from peace to pacifism. While this is not the place to discuss this interpretation of Jaurès’s politics, let us simply point out that he was a patriot, well informed about matters of national defense, and certainly no thoroughgoing pacifist32 . The place, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, the outlying district turning leftwards, had recently been won by the SFIO in a significant historic moment that bode well for the future. The central actor, Jaurès, is expressing the full force of his commitment to avoiding violent conflict. The famous well-loved orator is presented in majesty, in action, and as a future victim, a martyr to the cause for peace.

This photo thus acts as a response to the portraits published on his death, illustrating “the man, the thinker, socialist33 ”. It acquired its meaning retrospectively, bringing him back to life, resuscitating his sacrifice, recounting a moment with activists in the hope of saving the peace. This photo thus renders Jaurès to his people, amidst his people, as a man among others.

This photo, rediscovered in its full original form, may thus be used to tell several stories. Above and beyond its coloring for political or marketing purposes34 , its multiple meanings make it intriguing despite its familiarity – as if despite the viewer seeking the truth the photo retained part of its mystery. It takes us back to a time when socialism was uncompromised by power. Jaurès embodied the hope for a different future, and his martyrdom adds to the emotional charge it has today. After the numerous revelations about the staging, montage, and falsification of images in politics and the arts, publishing this photo in its original format, without cropping, also shows the shift in historians’ and viewers’ relationship to photographic documents. The image has truly acquired the status of a source. A source that can no longer be toyed with.

Nowadays the success of Branger’s photo cannot be separated from the history of photography. Above and beyond the symbols that it mobilizes, with the flag proudly fluttering, it has become part of the illustrated catalogue of the history of the left, like the photo of the CGT activist, Rose Zehner, addressing her striking colleagues at the Citroën-Javel factories on March 23, 1938, caught for eternity by Willy Ronis. This history is far from consensual. Thus Jaurès’s posture may suggest the fervor of his commitment, or else betrayal by socialists, with the commitment to peace reaffirmed on May 25, 1913 standing in contrast to their subsequent rallying to the Union Sacrée. For some on the left, Jaurès’s act at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, this communion with the assembled people, sits ill with the socialist deputies’ decision to “defend the Motherland” in August 1914 and work alongside the government. This goes some way to explaining why communists currently see a line of filiation to the figure of Jaurès and his thought, as evidenced by the PCF’s numerous tributes and multiple events dedicated to him. Despite its divergences, the left may look to its martyr and draw comfort. He was great. He sacrificed himself. Thanks to his image, the hope is still alive that another world was indeed possible.

Unfold notes and references
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This photo by Nick Ut showing a child, Kim Phuc, who was a victim of a bombardment by the South Vietnamese Air Force, was taken on June 8, 1972. Despite this, it is often associated with 1968, and used to symbolize the horror of the US bombardments of Vietnam.

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This 1830 allegory of freedom revolutionized the history of painting, with its wide view and central figure of a woman carrying a flag. It was immediately enlisted by all causes, and reproduced and reinterpreted in all sorts of formats, from posters to album covers. For nearly two centuries it has been used to “illustrate” a host of events (particularly the 1848 revolution).

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This study originated in the Jaurès contemporain exhibition curated by Vincent Duclert, examining “memories of Jaurès” since his assassination on July 31, 1914, 100 years previously, and the traces he left in left-wing debate and French cultural and political life more generally. Duclert selected the images, photographs, postcards, brochures, books, and objects illustrating his theme from the collections held by the Office Universitaire de Recherche Socialiste and the Musée de l'Histoire Vivante. He also asked us to write the text for a panel about the famous photo of Jaurès in mid-flow at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais on May 25, 1913, taken by the photographer Maurice-Louis Branger (1874-1950).

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There is no one database of the countless images of Jaurès (drawings, paintings, caricatures, photos, busts, and so on), but it is estimated that there are about 200 different photos of him. A sizable sample of these are reproduced in the book by Jean-Noël Jeanneney, Jean Jaurès, Nathan, photo poche histoire, 2001. Back in 1959 the Musée Jaurès in Castres published a small catalogue with many varied images, including photos.

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Historians are increasingly interested in symbols and images. Fond mention must go to the recently departed Maurice Agulhon, whose works on Marianne and republican symbolism demonstrated the importance of observing how societies wield their symbols.

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In 1936 the Parti Communiste Français adopted the tricolor flag, that it combined with the red Soviet flag (the hammer and sickle, symbols adopted shortly after the Bolshevik revolution). See Maurice Dommanget,Histoire du drapeau rouge des origines à la guerre de 1939, Librairie de l’Étoile, 1967. The Parti Socialiste, for its part, has kept its red flag, even though its new symbol since 1971, the fist holding a rose, also associates it with pink as a political color (via the French for pink, rose).

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Robert Brécy, Florilège de la chanson révolutionnaire. De 1870 au Front populaire, Éditions ouvrières, 1990.

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Two months earlier, on March 16, to coincide with the parliamentary debate, the CGT trade union held a demonstration at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais attended by a crowd of protesters. On May 25, the SFIO invited the Workers' Federation to take part in a demonstration, and authorized anarchist and libertarian groups to attend too. Lastly, on 13 July, 1913, Jaurès, accompanied by his daughter Madeleine, attended the last protest meeting held there before the war. See Madeleine Rebérioux, “Le Pré-Saint-Gervais et Jaurès”, in V. Perlès (ed.), Le Pré entre Paris et banlieue, histoire(s) du Pré-Saint-Gervais, Créaphis, 2004.

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The full name is the Butte-du-Chapeau-rouge at Le Pré Saint-Gervais.

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Namely Suzanne Gibaud, Alice Jouenne, Élisabeth Renaud, Louise Saumoneau, and Maria Verone. L’Humanité, May 25, 1913.

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According to police reports held in the Archives Nationales, reference F 7/335. The authors wish to thank Philippe Oulmont for having communicated this archive reference. We also direct readers to his pioneering article “Au Pré-Saint-Gervais, 25 mai 1913: Jaurès en rouge et en tricolore”, in V. Duclert, R. Fabre, P. Fridenson, Avenirs et avant-garde en France XIXe-XXesiècles Hommage à Madeleine Rebérioux, Paris, La Découverte,.1999, p. 391-394.

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We have studied this long-neglected photographer and the history of his photos, seeking to identify their many usages, suggesting some interpretations about their use by political parties, and examined the history of their acquisition by the Roger-Viollet agency, which has managed the copyright to them since the mid-1960s. See Éric Lafon, “La photographie de Jaurès”, forthcoming.

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This number is based on the many photos by Branger we have identified that have been published in newspapers, magazines, and books, from 1913 to the present day.

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In the meaning used by Christian Gattinoni inLes Mots de la photographie, Belin, 2004.

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Madeleine Rebérioux,Jean Jaurès. La parole et l’acte, Paris, Gallimard, 1994.

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See for example, Charles Léandre, “Jaurès à la tribune” (1903), Eloy-Vincent, “Croquis pour servir à illustrer l’histoire de l’éloquence” (1910), “Brillant match d’éloquence entre MM. Jean Jaurès et Jules Guesde” (1900), by Henri Somm, works currently held by the Musée Jean-Jaurès in Castres. Documents commented by Alain Boscus ont the website, L'Histoire par l'image.

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As of 1904, the Parti Socialiste de France published four propaganda postcards: one portrait of Jules Guesde, one of Édouard Vaillant, and two cards with a drawing illustrating the slogan “Organisons-nous!”. They were sold 5 centimes apiece, and the party advertised them in its publications on sale to activists. After the unification of the socialists in 1908, the SFIO bookshop distributed twelve postcards showing portraits of historical figures (Marx, Blanqui, Jean-Baptiste Clément, and Eugène Pottier) and national or regional socialist leaders (Jaurès, Guesde, Allemane, Brousse, Delory, Landrin, Édouard Vaillant, and Paul Lafargue). All political families were presented, without the party adopting any particular "personality".

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Jaurès was very present in this new "medium". In 2000, at the initiative of Remy Casals, a conference called Sur les pas de Jaurès (Privat, 2004) examined the corpus of postcards accompanying Jaurès’ combat around France. More recently, during a study day organized by the Société d’études jaurésiennes, Annick Bonnet presented a paper about the images of SFIO congresses between 1905 and 1914 (Cahiers Jaurès, nos. 187-188, 2008). 

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Compère-Morel, Jean-Lorris, Quillet, Encyclopédie socialiste, syndicale et coopérative de l'Internationale ouvrière, Paris, Aristide Quillet éditeur, 1913-1921.

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The socialist newspaper did not devote its front page to Jaurès’s speech, but to the size of the demonstration and estimation of the turnout. Is the number of demonstrators announced by L’Humanitéreliable? A note from the Sûreté Nationale or May 26, 1913 put forward a figure, without disputing that the demonstration had been a success: “Socialist administration at Le Pré St Gervais. The leaders of the Parti Socialiste are very pleased with the success of the demonstration yesterday, and especially that there were no incidents. General opinion puts the turnout at 100,000 people, and the number of signatures on the petition, not yet established this morning, is estimated to be nearly 30,000. […] Further noteworthy points were ovations for the speech by Vaillant, and especially that by Jaurès”. See Archives nationales, F 7/335, Note de la Sûreté, M 54 U du 26 mai 1913.

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Following information provided by Philippe Oulmont in his above-mentioned study, we have consulted a press photo of the period bearing Branger’s stamp in the Sûreté nationale fonds at the Archives nationales.

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This edition of L’Illustrationstates that though the organizers announced 120,000 demonstrators, “The next day the headline in L’Humanitéannounced 150,000 – the police having counted only 30,000 to 35,000”. However, the figure of 150,000 also figured in certain police reports. As did the figure 100,000. Lastly, it may be noted that the L’Illustrationjournalist reports the imposing presence of the black flag of anarchist groups, something often omitted in press accounts the event.

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These two photos were reproduced in very large format for the exhibition at the Panthéon. 

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Marcelle Auclair, La Vie de Jaurès ou la France d’avant 1914, Paris, Le Seuil, 1954.

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The most widely known example being the red poster. Originally this was a propaganda poster published by the Nazis to denounce and stigmatize the French Resistance. It was reused "positively" by the Resistance, and nowadays figures amongst the most emblematic images in the French collective memory of the fight against the occupiers.

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Annie Kriegel, Jean-Jacques Becker, 1914, La guerre et le mouvement ouvrier français, Paris, Armand Colin, 1964.

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This version of the photo was used to illustrate Jaurès, and socialism or the left-wing more generally, on the cover of an edition of Les Grands événements du XXe siècle in 1983, and then on an edition of the magazine Textes et documents pour la classe (TDC, 2004). In 2010, the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur brought out a special issue about “L’Histoire des gauches 1789-2010” listing “Républicains, Socialistes, Anarchistes, Utopistes, Communistes, Trotskistes, Maoïstes, Ecologistes” on the cover, which displayed Branger’s photo of Jaurès.

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“Images et ‘images’ de Jaurès”, Marie-Claude Vettraino-Soulard, in Jaurès et ses images, Collectif, Société de Bibliologie et de schématisation, 1985.

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Madeleine Rebérioux, Jaurès La parole et l’acte, Paris, Gallimard, 1994.

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In 1999, this photo (cropped but in its original black and white version) was used logically enough for the cover of Hommage à Madeleine RebériouxJaurès La parole et l’acte, Paris, Gallimard, 1994.

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The best example of this anachronism may be found in Paul Nizan, who in La Conspiration (1938) refers to "the sentimental images that Paris has retained of Jean Jaurès and his boater and old jacket, raising his fists against the war under the open sky at Le Pré Saint-Gervais”. Indeed, the two meetings at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais are often confused – that in May, when Jaurès wore a black hat, and that in July, where he wore a white boater against the sun.

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Amongst the abundant scholarship on this theme, readers are referred to the useful clarification offered by François Chanet in the special issue of L’Histoire (no. 397, March 2014): “La paix, mais pas à tout prix”, in addition to the assessment by his recent biographers Gilles Candar and Vincent Duclert (Jaurès, Fayard, 2014), and the presentation by Jean-Jacques Becker to the publication of L’Armée nouvelledans l’Œuvre de Jaurès (Fayard, 2013).

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To use the subtitle of the first biography of Jaurès, by Charles Rappoport in 1916, published by the Éditions de l’Émancipatrice.

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Many newspapers and magazines have used it in full-page illustrations or on their covers over the course of the past 15 years – from Le Nouvel observateur to L’Humanité dimanche, from L’Histoire to Historia, from a special issue by Le Mondeto L'Express and Géo-Histoire, to cite a few examples, all from national publications in 2014.

Marcelle Auclair, La Vie de Jaurès ou la France d’avant 1914, Paris, Le Seuil, 1954.

Jean-Jacques Becker, « L’Armée nouvelle » in L’Oeuvre de Jaurès, Paris, Fayard, 2013.

Annick Bonnet, « Images de congrès : les photographies des congrès socialistes (1905-1914) », in Cahiers Jaurès, n° 187-188 « Les Débuts de la SFIO », p. 47-61, 2008.


Robert Brécy, Florilège de la chanson révolutionnaire. De 1789 au Front Populaire, Paris, Éditions ouvrières, 1990.

Alain Boscus, Remy Cazals, Sur les pas de Jaurès : la France de 1900, Paris, Privat, 2004.

Gilles Candar, Vincent Duclert, Jaurès, Paris, Fayard, 2014.

Adéodat Compère-Morel, Jean Lorris, Encyclopédie socialiste, syndicale et coopérative de l’Internationale ouvrière, Paris, Aristide Quillet Éditeur, vol. 12, 1912.


Maurice Dommanget, Histoire du drapeau rouge des origines à la guerre de 1939, Paris, Éditions ouvrières, 1990.


Christian Gattinoni, Les Mots de la photographie, Paris, Belin, 2004.


Jean-Noël Jeanneney, Jean Jaurès, Paris, Nathan, Photo poche histoire, 2001.

Annie Kriegel, Jean-Jacques Becker, 1914, La guerre et le mouvement ouvrier français, Paris, Armand Colin, 1964.


Eric Lafon, La Photographie de Jaurès, à paraître.

Paul Nizan, La Conspiration, Paris, Gallimard, 1938.

Philippe Oulmont « Au-Pré-Saint-Gervais, 25 mai 1913 : Jaurès en rouge et en tricolore », in V. Duclert, R. Fabre, P. Fridenson, Avenir et avant-garde en France XIXe-XXe siècles. Hommage à Madeleine Rébérioux, Paris, La Découverte, 1999, p. 391-394.


Madeleine Rébérioux, Jean Jaurès. La Parole et l’acte, Paris, Gallimard, 1994.


Madeleine Rébérioux, « Le Pré-Saint-Gervais et Jaurès », in V. Perlès (dir.), Le Prè entre Paris et banlieue, Histoire(s) du Pré-Saint-Gervais, Paris, Créaphis, 2005.


Charles Rappoport, Jean Jaurès. L’homme, le penseur, le socialiste, Paris, Éditions de l’Émancipatrice, 1916.


Marie-Claude Vetttraino-Soulard, « Images et “images” de Jaurès » in Jaurès et ses images, Collectif, Société de Bibliologie et de schématisation, 1985.

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