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HomeContentsThemes > Paris Commune (1871)


237.01   Paris Commune (1871): Introduction
237.02   Photomontage during the Paris Commune (1871)
237.03   Paris Commune (1871): Photographs of wanted and dead communards
237.04   Paris Commune (1871): Destruction of the Vendome Column
237.05   Paris Comme Album (1871)
237.06   Alphonse J. Liébert: Paris Commune (1871)
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
237.01   War >  Paris Commune (1871): Introduction 
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Following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) the head of the French National Government, Adolph Thiers, had negotiated the terms of peace but the inhabitants of Paris, who had undergone a long siege, did not accept the German victory. A catalyst for widespread unrest was a planned triumphal entry into the city by the German army - the citizens rebelled and the Paris Commune[1][2] began on 18 March 1871. The struggles of the Parisian Communards was studied by Karl Marx in his 1871 pamphlet The Civil War in France.[3]
There remains a photographic record of the barricades, devastated streets and buildings and the dead communards. Most of the photographs are fairly uninteresting albumen prints but within the collections at Northwestern University Library there are some gems. Photographs also survive of the destruction of the Colonne Vendôme[4] on 16 May 1871 in Place Vendôme.[5]
In the week beginning 21 May 1871 there was brutal street fighting an an estimated 20,000-30,000 communards were killed or executed with many more being arrested. French newspapers, such as Le Monde illustré and L'Illustration, used photographs as the basis for their engravings. 
237.02   War >  Photomontage during the Paris Commune (1871) 
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During and after the Paris Commune of 1871 Eugène Appert (1814-1891) created photomontage albumen prints to highlight key events in a series entitled Crimes of the Commune (Crimes de la Commune). Each of the printed composites was accompanied with printed details that provided the evidence for what was being supposedly being shown. The prints were used as propaganda by the French National Government, led by Adolph Thiers, to justify the brutal suppression of the commune and the executions that followed. 
  War Paris Commune 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
War Paris Commune 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
237.03   War >  Paris Commune (1871): Photographs of wanted and dead communards 
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Following the Paris Commune (1871) photographs of wanted communards were supplied to the Frontier police so they could be captured - this use of photographs to support political objectives where photojournalists are torn between taking images at demonstrations and the knowledge that their images will be used as a tool of oppression. 
237.04   War >  Paris Commune (1871): Destruction of the Vendome Column 
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237.05   War >  Paris Comme Album (1871) 
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This exhibition contains the title page and all the plates for the:

Album Photographique
Ruines de Paris
de tous les monuments et édifices incendiés et détruits
La Commune de Paris
Accompagnee de Notices historique de descriptives sur chaque sujet

The album with 20 glued in albumen prints was published in Paris by Librairie rue Visconti, 22 with the price of 28 francs. The author who wrote the notes was Justin Lallier, septembre 1871. 
237.06   War >  Alphonse J. Liébert: Paris Commune (1871) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Alphonse J. Liébert documented the devastation of Paris that took place during the Paris Commune (1871)

  1. Λ Quentin Bajac, Alisa Luxemberg, Denis Pellerin & Stéphanie Sotteau, 2000, La Commune photographiée (Réunion des musées nationaux) [Exhibition catalogue, 14 March - 11 June 2000, Musée d'Orsay] 
  2. Λ Alistair Horne, 1971, The terrible year; the Paris Commune 1871, (Viking Press); Alistair Horne, 2007, The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71 (Penguin) [Reprint] 
  3. Λ Karl Marx, 1871, The Civil War in France
    [A 35 page pamphlet that went through multiple editions.] Online: 
  4. Λ La Colonne Vendôme déboulonnée [French] 
  5. Λ


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Lewinski, Jorge, 1978, The Camera at War, A History of War Photography, (New York: Simon & Schuster) [Δ
Livingston, Jane, 1985, The Indelible Image, Photographs of War, (New York: Harry Abrams) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 
Northwestern University - Collection of photographs on the Paris Commune (1871) ... 
This site contains links to over 1200 digitized photographs and images recorded during the Siege and Commune of Paris. 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Eugène Appert  (1830-1891) • Bruno Braquehais  (1823-1875) • Hippolyte-Auguste Collard  (1812-1897) • François-Joseph Delintraz • André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri  (1819-1889) • Allan Hughan  (1834-1883) • Alphonse J. Liébert  (check) • Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg  (check)
HomeThemesWar > Paris Commune (1871) 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Early political photomontage 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Paris Commune (1871)

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailAdolphe Braun - The Paris Commune and the Aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (February 20, 2007)
ThumbnailParis Commune Album (1871) 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (May 1, 2006)

HomeVisual indexes > Paris Commune (1871)

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailLouis Adolphe Thiers 
ThumbnailAdolphe Braun: The Paris Commune and the Aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAdolphe Braun: Théâtre de la Guerre, 1870-1871 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAlphonse J. Liébert: Paris Commune (1871) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailEugène Appert: Crimes de la Commune 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWar: Paris Commune (1871) 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailCommune de Paris (1871) - Fraud, misrepresentation or error? 
Refreshed: 22 August 2014, 17:06
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