Three days of feasts, the people, the army, France.
© Montreuil Living History Museum
Publication date: March 2016
July 14, 1936
July 14, 1936, the victorious Popular Front celebrates the National Day for the first time. Identical processions take place simultaneously throughout France.
Shows are finally subsidized, for three days, by the government. The national holiday borrows for the first time from the street demonstration, giving substance to what can be qualified as a manifestation of sovereignty, summed up by the magazine's title: "Three days of celebration, the army, the people, the France. "
Photograph the multitude
In the 1920s, photographs of demonstrations, rallies or parades published in the press most often represented the crowd through a wide shot or a dive showing the number. The magazine Seen, founded in 1928 by Lucien Vogel, draws inspiration from photographic techniques at work in illustrated magazines of Weimar Germany and revolutionizes the French photographic information press.
The photograph of Robert Capa chosen to illustrate this July 14th focuses on a group: a young boy, on his father's shoulders, waves a tricolor. Both wear the cap, but behind the father's face you can see a hat; discreet reminder of the alliance of the working class and the middle classes to which the Popular Front claims to be. In the background, the July Column, Place de la Bastille, adorned for the occasion with tricolor and red flags flapping in the wind like a sail, but which the photograph only suggests.
A new image of the people on the march
This way of representing the number by showing the part for the whole is found in many photographs of Robert Capa, David Seymour or Willy Ronis then published by Seen or Looks and have become emblematic of the Popular Front. Photographers prefer the individual, of popular origin, to the indistinct crowd.
This individual is no longer forward-looking, as was, for example, Freedom by Delacroix, this barricaded image of the marching people. It is grasped in its verticality to thus signify a present which owes its fullness to having become its own end. On his shoulders, the child, capable of transmitting, tomorrow, the memory of what was, by building its future in another way. In the background, discreet but, notwithstanding clearly identifiable, the symbol of the victorious revolution in Paris and by Paris, almost confused with the tricolor flag displayed by the child. Inscribed in the same verticality, they allow the construction of a new image of the people, capable of competing with antinomic barricading myths of political experience then at work: a people of France constituted today in Paris and by Paris.
- July 14th
- red flag
- tricolour flag
- Popular Front
- Champs Elysees
- working class
Robert CAPA, David SEYMOUR, Popular Front, Paris, Chêne-Magnum, 1976.
Jean-Louis ROBERT, Danielle TARTAKOWSKY (dir.), Paris the people, 18th-20th century, Paris, Publications of the Sorbonne, 1999.
Danielle TARTAKOWSKY, Street demonstrations in France, 1918-1968, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, coll. “History of France in the XIXth and XXth centuries”, 1997.
To cite this article
Danielle TARTAKOWSKY, "July 14, 1936"